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(en) US, Oakland, The Dawn* #2, Aug. 2004, The Aids Pandemic: US Promotes Solution of Greed and Abstinence - by Mei Lingg

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Sat, 7 Aug 2004 05:40:25 +0200 (CEST)

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The 15th World AIDS conference in Bangkok ended on July
16, with world leaders promising more funds and greater
efforts to fight the HIV pandemic, which continues to
spread in all but a few countries. The number of people
being treated for HIV in the developing world has doubled
since the last AIDS conference in Barcelona two years ago,
but life-saving drugs still only reach about 7% of the
6-million people in poor countries.
The US was the main target for criticism at the conference,
from both world leaders and activists.

Two years ago, Bush created a $15-billion US-controlled
emergency fund to fight AIDS. Thirty percent of this money
is dedicated to faith-based organizations, as Bush naively
pushes abstinence as a key method to ending the spread
of the disease. According to the president, "We need to
tell our children that abstinence is the only certain way
to avoid AIDS." It sounds like Bush has AIDS confused
with teen pregnancy.

Bush's plan also earmarked $1 billion to the UN-initiated
Global Fund. While the US plan targets 15 countries and
insists that projects purchase patented AIDS drugs, the
Global Fund

has projects in 128 countries and does not prevent the
purchase of cheap generic drugs. The UN Global Fund
provides generic drugs for $150 a year, compared to an
estimated $700 per year for brand name drugs. It was
also alleged at the conference that the US is pressuring
countries such as Thailand to cede their right to make
generic AIDS drugs in exchange for free-trade deals.

At the conference, Randall Tobias, the U.S. Global AIDS
Coordinator appointed by Bush, defended the US's position
of purchasing AIDS drugs that have been approved by the
US Food and Drug. "We need to know that the drugs act
in the same way" as brand-name drugs, he said. "It
would be irresponsible to do anything else."

A recent large-scale study conducted by Doctors Without
Borders has documented the effectiveness of using
fixed-dose, generic anti-retroviral drugs to fight
AIDS. According to Dr. Alexandra Calmy, an AIDS adviser
to the group, stated that the probability of survival
after one year for fixed-dose recipients was calculated as
82.4 percent. In a separate part of the study conducted
in Malawi, Dr. Arno Jeannin's Doctors Without Borders
team randomly tested the amount of HIV in the blood of 477
patients who had received generic fixed-dose combinations
there for six months or longer. Of these, HIV could not be
detected in 85 percent, showing the overall effectiveness
of the fixed-dose combinations.

There is doubt, however, that findings such as these will
have an effect on the actions of the US government in
fighting the AIDS pandemic, considering the interests of
those who control the $15 billion fund. Tobias, who has
no experience in public health, is the former chairman
and CEO of Eli Lilly and Company, one of the nation's
largest pharmaceutical corporations. CEO and board of
director members of this company also include Enron's
Ken Lay, former president George Herbert Walker Bush,
and Homeland Security Advisory Council member Sidney
Taurel. From 1997 to 2001, Secretary of Defense Donald
H. Rumsfeld was chairman of the board of Gilead Sciences
Inc., a company who was a target for protesters at this
year's AIDS conference for testing their possible
HIV vaccine on Cambodian sex workers, without providing
health care for those who become infected. With these
people controlling the US government's effort to fight
against AIDS, how can we expect that the interests for the
38 million people infected with HIV/AIDS globally will be
taken into consideration?
* [Ed. Note: The Dawn is an Anarcho-Communist journal]

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