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International News

Africa: Clinton to Take War on HIV to Next Level

July 17, 2006

In the wake of the success the Bill Clinton Foundation has had in slashing the cost poor countries pay for first-line generic AIDS drugs, the former president said he hopes to do the same for second-line drugs by the end of the year. Second-line drugs are the medications HIV/AIDS patients take if they develop severe side effects or resistance to first-line drugs.

The foundation cut prices for first-line drugs by negotiating lower prices set by pharmaceutical manufacturers for the makers of the raw ingredients. However, the cost of second-line drugs remains prohibitive.

"It's quite difficult for us to get close to the price of the first-line drugs because of the volume problem," Clinton said. "It's hard to get volumes up, but we have gotten steep discounts [on two second-line drugs], and I think we will have the full complement by the end of the year."

In addition to visiting South Africa, Clinton traveled to Lesotho with Microsoft Chairperson Bill Gates to assess that country's fight against HIV/AIDS. The mountain kingdom has the world's third-highest HIV prevalence rate, with an estimated 270,000 people infected, according to UNAIDS. About 58,000 people there need antiretrovirals, but only 11,000 are getting them, according to the Clinton Foundation.

The foundation's HIV/AIDS Initiative began working with the Lesotho government after an approach from UN Special Envoy Stephen Lewis.

Clinton and Gates toured the government's second-largest HIV/AIDS facility at the Mafeteng Hospital, which is currently treating 1,100 patients.

Back to other news for July 17, 2006

Adapted from:
Business Day (Johannesburg)
07.14.06; Tamar Kahn

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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
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