Monday, November 28, 2005

AIDS fight needs more than goats

Madelaine Bunting describes the still heart-breaking HIV situation in Africa:
Since HIV/Aids was first diagnosed nearly 25 years ago, more money has been put into combating this disease than probably any other in human history. It's not hard to see why: no other disease has ever threatened such a devastating impact as it attacks the generation whose labour and child-rearing is pivotal to the functioning of any human society. But the latest figures from UNAids ahead of World Aids Day on Thursday show that despite the billions of dollars (perhaps $22bn since the 80s), prevalence in most of southern Africa is still rising - Swaziland has now crossed the 40% mark, while Botswana, at 37%, is heading that way, and South Africa is close to 30%.
Bunting ends with an appeal for massive donations from the West to improve Africa's healthcare systems, investment in antiretroviral drugs and poverty reduction in general. These cannot be successful without parallel removal of agricultural tariffs and subsidies and the mass-production of generic versions of these drugs, under compulsory patent licences if necessary. Alongside US abandonment of its ludicrously naive focus on abstinence programmes.

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