Several major developments could help gain access to
treatment for the 90% or more of people with HIV who live in developing countries and currently have no chance of receiving any antiretroviral medication.
- On May 11, five major pharmaceutical companies and UNAIDS (the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS) announced an agreement to negotiate large price reductions for poor countries, for AIDS drugs only; the reductions could be as much as 85% to 90% from what is paid in the U.S., according to an article in the Wall Street Journal, May 11, 2000.
- On May 16, the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed the World Bank AIDS Marshall Plan Trust Fund Act, which would provide $100 million per year for five years, to be leveraged with other government and private contributions for AIDS prevention and care. This bill could become law, possibly this year.
- On May 10, President Clinton signed an executive order which "prohibits the United States Government from [bringing trade sanctions] with respect to any law or policy in beneficiary sub-Saharan African countries that promotes access to HIV/AIDS pharmaceuticals or medical technologies and provides adequate and effective intellectual property protection consistent with the TRIPS agreement" [of the World Trade Organization treaty]. The language of this executive order was taken almost verbatim from an amendment by Senator Diane Feinstein (D-CA) to an African trade bill, after Republicans took that provision out of the bill, over Senator Feinstein's strong objection.
- Shortly after this issue goes to press, representatives of 30 different churches in the Chicago area will be meeting "to forge an historic partnership between communities of faith, HIV/AIDS-treatment physicians, and a pharmaceutical industry leader to combat the AIDS crisis by providing a model program for the care and support of HIV-infected children in Africa." This gathering is organized by the International Association of Physicians in AIDS Care (IAPAC), with support from Bristol-Myers Squibb Company's Secure the Future initiative.
- Incidentally, some practical issues of dealing with AIDS in many developing countries (focusing on Zimbabwe) are outlined in a May 2000 Scientific American article, "Care for a Dying Continent."
We have not had time to analyze the various proposals. At this time almost everything is talk, and most of the details are missing. But almost all complex programs start that way.
We believe that the AIDS community should avoid quick
judgments on these proposals, either positive or negative. Events are moving very rapidly, and new people and institutions are getting involved. It is more important to have top people focusing on the right issues than to have programs we can control.
ISSN # 1052-4207
Copyright 2000 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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