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World AIDS: $4.7 Billion -- WorldCom: $35 Billion

By John S. James

November 28, 2003

A month ago newspapers reported a huge bankruptcy settlement that wiped out about $35 billion in debt for one corporation, the notorious WorldCom.

"A federal bankruptcy judge yesterday gave his approval to a plan by telecommunications giant WorldCom and its creditors to exit bankruptcy by the end of the year. The decision wipes out in one stroke nearly $35 billion in debt, and positions the scandal-plagued company to again become a viable business and a formidable player in the intensely competitive industry." (Philadelphia Inquirer, November 1, 2003.)

The total worldwide spending for AIDS prevention, treatment, and care was $4.7 billion in 2002, the latest year for which figures are available (UNAIDS, Report on the State of HIV/AIDS Financing, June 2003).

The comparison speaks for itself -- $4.7 billion to control an epidemic killing 3,000,000 people this year, vs. $35 billion in debt restructuring to rehabilitate a single company heavily involved in one of the biggest scams in history.

The failure to respond to AIDS is a human problem, not a fact of nature. All of us can do our part to demand political will. The basic commitment is to insist on workable arrangements instead of settling for something less. WorldCom apparently has effective political consensus and cooperation on a viable path forward. But AIDS still does not.

ISSN # 1052-4207

Copyright 2003 by John S. James. Permission granted for noncommercial reproduction, provided that our address and phone number are included if more than short quotations are used.

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