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AFRO-NETS> Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report - Fri, 4 May 2001

Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report - Fri, 4 May 2001

* U.S. to Give $200 Million to Global AIDS Fund, Wall Street Journal

* Annan To Make First Contribution to Global AIDS Fund With Award

* Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report Rounds Up Recent Public Opinion on
  Global AIDS Issues

U.S. to Give $200 Million to Global AIDS Fund, Wall Street Journal 

The Bush administration is considering pledging approximately $200 
million to a new global AIDS fund and is looking for U.S. corpora-
tions to contribute as well, the Wall Street Journal reports. While 
this figure "falls short of what United Nations officials had hoped 
the United States would contribute," the Journal reports that the 
U.N. "remains hopeful that in the coming years the U.S. donation will 
grow as the fund establishes a track record of promoting prevention 
and treatment of AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria." U.N. Secretary Gen-
eral Kofi Annan, who has called for the development of an interna-
tional "war chest" in the amount of $7 billion to $10 billion a year 
to treat and prevent these diseases in sub-Saharan Africa, said, "If 
[the U.S. contribution] is confirmed, I would consider it a good be-
ginning, but only a beginning. I would hope that there would be other 
contributions to the fund, from both governments and the private sec-
tor." The Journal reports that Secretary of State Colin Powell, HHS 
Secretary Tommy Thompson and other "top aides" were expected to meet 
at the White House yesterday to discuss a possible contribution -- 
but the "touch[y] issue" of what programs to cut in the fiscal year 
2002 budget to offset any contribution still remains. While the 
president's budget already includes a 10% increase in this year's 
$450 million "AIDS-related foreign-assistance" allocations, according 
to a U.S. official, "People would like more, and they're trying hard 
to get it." To this end, the Journal reports that the administration 
plans to "tap its business allies" for contributions. Georgia Frank-
lin of MTV Networks International, which leads the Global Business 
Council on HIV/AIDS, said, "There is definitely a sea change emerging 
among businesses in responding to AIDS" (Phillips, Wall Street Jour-
nal, 5/4).

Annan To Make First Contribution to Global AIDS Fund With Award Prize

U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan will be the first to contribute to 
his proposed global fund to fight AIDS by donating the $100,000 
awarded with the Philadelphia Liberty Medal he is set to receive July 
4, the Reuters/Philadelphia Inquirer reports. U.N. spokesperson Fred 
Eckhard said, "The secretary-general's donation would be the first to 
the global fund, which is expected to cover a good portion of the $7 
billion to $10 billion required annually to deal with AIDS world-
wide." Annan proposed the fund, which would also be used to battle 
malaria and tuberculosis, last week during a conference in Abuja, Ni-
geria. The Liberty Medal was created in 1988 to honor individuals and 
organizations demonstrating "leadership in the pursuit of liberty"; 
the cash prize is raised privately. Annan was "singled out for his 
role in promoting peace, social justice and economic development," 
the Inquirer reports (Arieff, Reuters/Philadelphia Inquirer, 5/4).

Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report Rounds Up Recent Public Opinion on 
Global AIDS Issues

Following last week's conference on AIDS in Abuja, Nigeria, and the 
call by U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan for a "Global Superfund" to 
fight the epidemic, several newspapers have run opinions on how to 
address the problem of funding for HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment 
efforts. Here is a sampling of the commentary:

* New York Times: 
"The public attention given in recent months to Africa's AIDS crisis 
has not been matched with money," a New York Times editorial states. 
The $1 billion spent on AIDS is developing nations last year "will 
not even buy adequate prevention campaigns, much less health infra-
structure, care for AIDS orphans and necessary medicines for the 
sick," it continues. Annan's call for an AIDS trust fund of $7 bil-
lion to $10 billion a year "lays out a solid basis for a global at-
tack on AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria." Most of the money will ini-
tially go toward building health infrastructure, the editorial 
states. A declaration signed last week at the Abuja AIDS conference 
is a "welcome sign that African leaders are taking AIDS and health 
issues more seriously," the editorial continues. But any global ef-
fort against AIDS is "likely to be handicapped by a lack of leader-
ship from the United States. While Bush administration officials 
speak about AIDS as a catastrophe, the president's 2002 budget adds 
less than 10% to this year's spending for AIDS overseas, raising it 
to $480 million," the editorial states. Former President Bill Clinton 
suggested at the Abuja conference that the United States should pro-
vide a fourth of the proposed global AIDS fund, but Bush's projec-
tions "fal[l] more than $1 billion short of that," the editorial con-
cludes (New York Times, 5/2).

* New York Times: 
"No one thinks treatment alone is the solution to the AIDS epidemic. 
We need a comprehensive approach that combines prevention, care and 
research," Ana Oliveira, executive director of Gay Men's Health Cri-
sis, writes in a New York Times letter to the editor. She adds, "Suc-
cessful prevention, care and research programs will need a vast mobi-
lization of resources." Oliveira and her group "call on the United 
States to join other industrialized nations and make a significant 
commitment toward the $7 billion to $10 billion needed for the new 
global fund to combat this epidemic" (Oliveira, New York Times, 5/4).

* Washington Post: 
"HIV/AIDS is no longer just a health problem but a global development 
problem, threatening to reverse many of the development gains made 
over the past half-century," World Bank President James Wolfensohn 
writes in a Washington Post op-ed. Wolfensohn agrees with Annan that 
a "war chest and a war strategy" are needed to fight HIV/AIDS in the 
developing world. "Money alone will not solve the problem, but it is 
a vital part of the solution," he writes. The World Bank and UNAIDS 
estimate that creating a basic HIV/AIDS program in every African na-
tion will cost in total between $3 billion and $4 billion a year. Al-
though the World Bank has successfully provided $300 million to Afri-
can nations since last September through the Multi-Country HIV/AIDS 
Program, "no one on his own ... can provide the money and support 
needed to engage HIV/AIDS at the global and country level and ulti-
mately prevail," Wolfensohn writes. "For this reason, the bank sup-
ports the calls for the establishment of a global fund" to fight 
HIV/AIDS "within the context of meeting a series of key targets known 
as international development goals," he continues. Leadership is an-
other "essential element" in the "war strategy," he writes. More Af-
rican leaders need to "break the silence" surrounding HIV/AIDS. "Let 
us join with the G-7 and the U.N. system to commit to a global fund. 
Let us make this a pivotal moment in the fight against HIV/AIDS," he 
concludes (Wolfensohn, Washington Post, 4/28).

* Wall Street Journal: 
High drug prices "have nothing to do" with the lack of HIV/AIDS 
treatment in Africa, Holman Jenkins writes in the "Business World" 
column in the Wall Street Journal. "Without a delivery infrastructure 
and a broad range of support services, lower prices are meaningless," 
he continues. If Africans and others in developing nations have been 
"left out" of drug therapies, "it's not because of 'corporate greed' 
but because there is no price at which they would become customers 
for antiretroviral therapy," he writes. AIDS drug therapy is "highly 
complex" requiring patients to take somewhere in the neighborhood of 
20 pills a day and adhere to a "rigid schedule." Some of the pills 
come with "stringent dietary restrictions" as well, which may prove 
difficult to follow in African nations where adequate food and clean 
water are scarce. A study by San Francisco General Hospital found 
that "anything less than 95% compliance can raise to 50% the chances 
of treatment failing and a resistant virus emerging," Jenkins writes. 
"Playing on stereotypes of 'greedy' business spares [activists] the 
hassle of having to explain to young people which side they're on. 
Corporation = evil is an unquestioned catechism. How this advances a 
medical solution to AIDS is the unsolved mystery," he continues. 
Without patent protection, pharmaceutical research "will come to a 
screeching halt ... because recovering these costs would become im-
possible. And somewhere down the road lies a drug that would really 
help save African lives," he concludes (Jenkins, Wall Street Journal, 

* Chicago Tribune: 
The "state of emergency" declared by African leaders at last week's 
summit is "already obvious," a Tribune editorial states, adding, 
"What's new is that the rest of the world is finally catching on." 
The editorial states that U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell and 
HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson are working on a "Marshall Plan" to 
fight HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa. Thompson is gathering opinions 
from drug firms and is "exploring international resources to find how 
to best fight the disease," the editorial states. Thompson says his 
plan could include funding for building roads and hospitals, to pur-
chase and distribute drugs, or to let physicians "inspire a global 
effort." The editorial suggests that the plan should make prevention 
a "key priority" and should offer anti-AIDS drugs at reduced prices 
in "poverty-stricken places." Meanwhile, leadership from African and 
other developing nations is "essential" as well, the editorial 
states, concluding, "Until African leaders speak with one voice, 
without equivocation, about the AIDS crisis and how to combat it, no 
global effort will succeed" (Chicago Tribune, 4/29).

* Philadelphia Inquirer: 
"Clearly, a global effort is needed to stop the death and dying in 
Africa and in other countries" where AIDS "is becoming the grimmest 
new reaper," the Philadelphia Inquirer says. As African leaders are 
promising to make AIDS their foremost health priority, "[n]ow the 
rest of the world must bear its share of the AIDS responsibility as 
well." As "the world's mightiest power," the United States should 
"minimally contribute 20% of a proposed $10 billion world AIDS fund -
- or $2 billion. And President Bush should quickly rise to the bully 
pulpit to become a powerful cheerleader for the fund," the editorial 
concludes (Philadelphia Inquirer, 5/4). 

* Newsday: 
A Newsday editorial states that nations hoping to receive U.N. fund-
ing to fight HIV/AIDS "must ... show a full commitment to treatment 
programs," as well as evidence that they "are using their money effi-
ciently and honestly." The editorial notes that within three years, 
AIDS "will become the worst scourge in history, surpassing the toll 
of the Black Plague in the 14th century." And while a "meticulous 
drug program" will help "ease widespread economic destabilization" 
and is "crucial" to protecting the health of infected persons, na-
tions should not "confuse it with a solution," the editorial con-
cludes (Newsday, 4/30).

* Minneapolis Star Tribune: 
"Unfortunately, with patent issues dominating the global AIDS debate, 
scant attention has been given to the critical question of direct 
funding of the purchase of drugs and treatment," Sen. John Kerry (D-
Mass.) and Bruce Lehman, president of the International Intellectual 
Property Institute, write in a Star Tribune op-ed. Kerry and Lehman 
state that the "divide between rich and poor nations is tragic," not-
ing that the United States has managed to reduce its AIDS-related 
mortality rate by 75% while 95% of those infected with HIV live in 
developing nations. They write, "Patients in poor countries will not 
survive without funding by the governments of developed countries for 
these therapies. Current levels of foreign assistance are not even 
remotely adequate to address needs from the manufacture and use of 
generic pharmaceuticals to deeply discounted drugs made available un-
der license from patent holders." The authors state that U.S. foreign 
policy priorities need to be re-evaluated in the wake of the epi-
demic. "As it considers its foreign policy options and moral obliga-
tions, the Bush administration should revisit a shortsighted and woe-
fully inadequate program of humanitarian assistance. For the United 
States, it's a major test of our most cherished values. For the 
world's developing countries, it may be something more important: Our 
investment may be their only hope for survival," they conclude 
(Kerry/Lehman, Minneapolis Star Tribune, 4/30). 

Cecilia Snyder

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