Anti-AIDS Alliance Calls in Africa for Free Therapy
December 21, 2004
A worldwide alliance of health experts, institutions and nongovernmental organizations has launched a campaign for free health care and medicines for people living with HIV/AIDS in Africa and other developing regions. On Dec. 14, more than 600 individuals, including the director-general of Doctors Without Borders, Gorik Ooms, and Helene Rossert, vice president of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria, signed the "Free by Five" declaration.Adapted from:
Bernard Taverne, a doctor at the Senegal-based Development Research Institute, said the declaration's name "is a twist on the World Health Organization's three by five" goal of providing antiretroviral drugs to 3 million people in developing countries by 2005. Like the drugs, HIV testing and hospital care should also be free, "because it's a complete set," said Taverne. "If a bit doesn't work, the whole thing falls apart."
The Free by Five statement says: "While the market price of drugs is coming down, many AIDS patients in developing countries die because they cannot afford their contribution to the cost of treatment." Stephen Lewis, UN special envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa and a signatory of the statement, agreed. "For many, [ARV] treatment is literally the difference between life and death. But if the drugs are not offered free, the poorest people won't benefit."
The Free by Five campaign noted that just 440,000 of the 5.5 million HIV-positive people worldwide in need of treatment have access to it. According to the statement, no more than 4 percent of Africans living with HIV/AIDS are receiving ARVs.
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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.