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AIDS in Africa

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  • Bell, Elizabeth
    Toward a Global AIDS Fund New York Times (05.02.01) The public attention given in recent months to Africa s AIDS crisis has not been matched with money,
    Message 1 of 29 , May 2, 2001
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      "Toward a Global AIDS Fund"
      New York Times (05.02.01)
      "The public attention given in recent months to Africa's
      AIDS crisis has not been matched with money," began the editors.
      "Last year the world spent about $1 billion on AIDS in
      developing countries-a sum that will not even buy adequate
      prevention campaigns, much less health infrastructure, care for
      AIDS orphans and necessary medicines for the sick." The editors
      noted UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's speech last week at the
      African AIDS summit in Nigeria, which "lays out a solid basis
      for a global attack on AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria." In his
      speech, Annan called for a global AIDS fund totaling $7 billion
      to $10 billion a year to help stem the epidemic.
      The editors projected how a global AIDS fund would be used.
      "At least initially," they wrote, "a large part of the money
      will go toward building a health infrastructure in the African
      nations most ravaged by AIDS." The editors are encouraged that
      "African leaders from 43 nations have pledged to increase their
      spending on health, and especially on AIDS," which "is a welcome
      sign that African leaders are taking AIDS and health issues more
      seriously."
      But the global AIDS fund will depend on more than Africa's
      commitment to improving its AIDS-fighting programs, and the
      editors fear that US contributions won't be enough. "The global
      AIDS fund ... is likely to be handicapped by a lack of leadership
      from the United States. While Bush administration officials speak
      about AIDS as a catastrophe, the president's 2002 budget adds
      less than 10 percent to this year's spending for AIDS overseas....
      Former President Clinton suggested to the Nigeria AIDS conference
      that Washington should provide a quarter of the global AIDS fund.
      President Bush's budget falls more than $1 billion short of
      that," the editors concluded.

      "First Rule of AIDS in Africa: Do No Harm"
      Wall Street Journal (05.02.01) Holman W Jenkins, Jr
      The editorial addressed the ongoing debate surrounding the
      pharmaceutical industry's price reductions for AIDS drugs,
      specifically for those countries in Africa ravaged by the
      disease. "There is no doubt that a strictly applied drug regimen
      could prolong millions of African lives, but high prices have
      nothing to do with why it's not happening," insisted the author.
      "If Africans and other Third Worlders are left out, it's not
      because of 'corporate greed' but because there is no price at
      which they would become customers for antiretroviral therapy,"
      the author said, citing that several drug companies offered AIDS
      drugs to African governments at or below manufacturing cost, but
      "There were no takers."
      The author discussed the difficulty that delivering and
      managing drug treatment in Africa would present. He quoted a
      recent issue of Patient Care that concurred: "'Patients need to
      be told specifically about the serious consequences of
      nonadherence and that treatment failure may result if even a few
      doses are missed.'" The author pointed to a San Francisco
      General Hospital study that found that "anything less than 95%
      compliance can raise to 50% the chances of treatment failing and
      a resistant virus emerging." And, "This is to say nothing of the
      long-term toxicities that have emerged," which include liver
      failure, kidney failure, a weakening of the bones, nausea,
      diarrhea, vomiting, lactic acidosis and a skewed fat metabolism.
      The author also noted how "many of the drugs come with stringent
      dietary restrictions" that are much easier to adhere to in the
      Western world where "patients have access to adequate nutrition
      in sanitary conditions and clean water."
      "Today's high prices represent not an absence of
      competition but an absence of piracy," the author continued.
      Drug companies have brought out 20 antiretrovirals since AZT was
      introduced, he said, and such "progress doesn't come cheap." He
      warned in conclusion, "This work will come to a screeching halt
      if the mau-mau crowd wins the day because recovering [research
      and development] costs would become impossible. And somewhere
      down the road lies a drug that really would help save African
      lives."


      "What the World Needs Now"
      POZ (05.01) Gregg Bordowitz
      Leaders of the three-year-old South Africa-based Treatment
      Action Campaign (TAC) have succeeded in issuing a wake-up call to
      governments and pharmaceutical companies around the world. Last
      July, TAC activists seized the world stage with a massive protest
      before the AIDS Conference in Durban. In November, TAC led the
      way to the first-ever waiver allowing importation of a generic
      medication for South Africa's 4 million people with HIV. And it
      was TAC's call to make HIV and opportunistic infection medicines
      available to all HIV-positive South Africans that finally brought
      drug companies to the negotiating table regarding price
      reductions for AIDS drugs in developing countries.
      At TAC's helm is 38-year-old, gay, HIV-positive activist
      Zackie Achmat, who was jailed and beaten by police for his anti-
      apartheid efforts in the late 1970s. In October he was arrested
      and charged with illegal importation of drugs for bringing 5,000
      capsules of Biozole, the Thai version of Pfizer's patented
      fluconazole, into South Africa. Yet Achmat refuses to take
      medications himself. Supporters have offered to purchase
      antiretroviral drugs for him outright, but he has publicly
      declared that he will not take any drugs unless they are
      available to everyone in South Africa. "I have decided not to
      take antiretrovirals because I don't want to live in a world that
      devalues the lives of poor people simply because they are poor. I
      could never look those people in the eye, and I couldn't lead
      them, if I was taking my medicines while they were going
      without," Achmat told POZ.
      Achmat's pledge is a display of the kind of leadership that
      could turn around the AIDS epidemic. In three short years, TAC
      has not only pushed the South African government to expand HIV
      drug access, it has also helped establish an activist network
      among poor nations producing, procuring and distributing quality
      medicines despite trade restrictions and drug industry pressure.
      "It's the activism that pushed my CD4 counts up. It's the fact
      that I have so many more friends now-people with and without
      HIV-because they realize that we are doing something together
      and we can win. Not because of the stand I've taken, but because
      TAC is giving them hope," Achmat said.


      "Annan Speaks About the Fight Against AIDS"
      Associated Press (05.01.01) Gina Cappello
      "The world has the resources to defeat this epidemic if it
      really wants to," UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said of the
      global AIDS epidemic Monday. "But at present, there's a lot of
      confusion about how the money should be raised, where it should
      be directed and who can ensure that it's well spent." Annan
      addressed more than 2,000 philanthropists and business leaders at
      the 52nd annual conference for the Council on Foundations, urging
      public and private organizations to work together to fight the
      spread of HIV and AIDS. Annan once again suggested the creation
      of a global fund dedicated to the battle against HIV/AIDS and
      other diseases to be brought before the June 25 special UN
      session on HIV and AIDS.

      "IMF Urges Countries to Contribute to AIDS Fund"
      Associated Press (05.01.01) Harry Dunphy
      At the conclusion of the spring meetings of the
      International Monetary Fund and World Bank, finance ministers and
      central bank governors announced their support for the
      establishment of a global fund to combat AIDS and other diseases.
      The ministers pledged there would be a substantial increase in
      funds to fight AIDS and other infectious diseases in poor
      countries. "What's clear now is that the commitment is growing
      by leaps and bounds, particularly among finance ministers in the
      industrialized countries as we saw this weekend," said Chris
      Lovelace, director of World Bank's unit for health, population
      and nutrition.
    • Bell, Elizabeth
      I have a new hero: Catholic Bishops to Fight AIDS South African Press Association (07.27.01) Catholic bishops from across southern Africa gathered on
      Message 2 of 29 , Jul 30, 2001
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        I have a new hero:

        "Catholic Bishops to Fight AIDS"
        South African Press Association (07.27.01)
        Catholic bishops from across southern Africa gathered on
        Wednesday at St. Peter's Seminary in Garsfontein, Pretoria, to
        attend the Southern African Catholic Bishop's Conference (SACBC).
        Bishop Reginald Cawcutt, spokesperson, said the six-day
        conference was aimed at preventing the spread of HIV/AIDS. A
        substantial part of the conference's discussions will focus on
        the AIDS and a proposal that the church reconsider its ban on
        condoms to combat the spread of disease, he said.
        Almost five million South Africans are HIV-infected. Earlier
        this month in the United States, Rustenburg Bishop Kevin Dowling
        proposed that the church's ban on condoms be lifted, saying AIDS
        was killing so many people he felt he could not duck the issue.
        Dowling was supported in his proposal by the Catholic newspaper
        Southern Cross, which said condoms provided one way of stemming
        the AIDS pandemic. The newspaper called on the church to
        reconcile its total ban on contraception with the philosophy of
        the sanctity of life.
        SACBC President Cardinal Wilfrid Napier said Dowling's
        statement would be weighed against not only the church's
        teachings, but also scientific evidence on the effectiveness of
        condoms in preventing infection. The conference will also focus
        on Angola, whose government the church has accused of encouraging
        sexual permissiveness through a recently launched campaign to
        promote condom use. The conference wraps up on Monday.

        "World Education Leaders Sound Alarm over AIDS Pandemic"
        Agence France Presse (07.26.01)
        The AIDS pandemic has had a bigger effect on teaching than
        any other profession and threatens to wipe out the trade in
        Africa within 10 years, a global conference heard Thursday. "The
        percentage of teachers who have died or carry the HIV virus is
        higher than for most professional groups," said Fred van
        Leeuwen, secretary general of Education International (EI). The
        confederation of about 300 teaching unions and organizations from
        155 countries is holding a conference in Thailand focusing on
        teaching in the age of globalization.
        Some 35-40 percent of secondary school teachers in Botswana
        are infected with HIV, the EI said. "In the next 10 years, if
        nothing is done, the ranks of teachers will completely disappear
        in Africa," said Monique Fouiloux, EI's AIDS specialist. There
        are also concerns that teachers are abusing their position to
        sexually exploit children under their care, helping fuel the
        transmission of the deadly disease. This year in conjunction with
        other international institutions including UNESCO, EI intends to
        make AIDS prevention an integral part of its education mission.
        In the process, it will have to counter significant cultural
        barriers that hamper frank discussion of AIDS, a problem that is
        particularly severe outside the cities. "In Botswana, the only
        place where it is difficult to talk about AIDS is in rural
        areas," said Japhta Radibe, a representative of the Botwsana
        Teachers Union. "Even before HIV/AIDS, we had a shortage of
        teachers, but the pandemic has aggravated it," she said.


        "AIDS Costs Kenya Heavily"
        Xinhua (07.27.01)
        According to Kenya's National AIDS Control Council, the
        nation is losing about $2.6 million daily to the HIV/AIDS
        epidemic. Speaking at the Nairobi Provincial AIDS Control
        Committee workshop this week, Chair Mohammed Abdullah said that
        certain practices are spreading the disease and his council is
        now advocating an attitude change and measures to reduce
        transmission. Chris Kirubi, a council member, urged the
        government to end and criminalize female genital mutilation and
        blamed the practice for helping the spread of HIV/AIDS. Other
        measures recommended include ending prostitution along Nairobi
        streets and curbing the influx of child prostitutes. Kenya is one
        of the sub-Saharan African countries hardest hit by AIDS: 1.1
        million Kenyans have died of the disease since 1984, and 2.2
        million others are living with HIV.
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