Giving Africa a hand in fighting AIDS crisis

June 15, 1999

Here is an excerpt of an editorial from the Chicago Tribune, which was published Saturday.

IN SUB-Saharan Africa, AIDS remains deadlier than any plague or natural catastrophe anyone can recall.

Of the estimated 34 million people worldwide infected with the AIDS virus, about 22 million live in that part of the world.

Such a calamity cries out for action, which in some Third World countries has included proposals to allow native manufacturers to pirate AIDS drugs developed by Western firms to produce lower-priced generics. Both the U.S. government and American drug firms have opposed such proposals -- and rightly -- as illegal and counterproductive in the long-term fight against AIDS.

Cost is but one reason AZT and other advanced AIDS drugs are not widely distributed in Africa. A far more difficult problem is lack of medical networks capable of monitoring the prescription of these dangerous chemotherapies.

Last month Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. announced a $100 million grant for AIDS research and physician training in Africa. Other manufacturers of hugely profitable AIDS drugs should follow suit, along with Western governments, which could set up a system of subsidies and other financial and technical aid.

Pub Date: 6/15/99

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