Meeting to tackle AIDS drug access

A gathering of top AIDS disease researchers and scientists opening in Paris on Sunday is expected to tackle the politically-sensitive issue of access poor countries have to treatment.

    Each day 8,000 people die of AIDS worldwide

    The conference will be opened on Sunday by former Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoso, whose country has the most successful anti-AIDS programme among developing nations.

    Brazil distributes drugs free of charge and produces its own generic antiretroviral compounds.

    Former South African President Nelson Mandela will speak about Africa’s battle with AIDS on Monday, while Europe’s own proposals for fighting the disease will be presented on Wednesday by French President Jacques Chirac and EU Commission President Romano Prodi.

    “We estimate that among the 40 million people infected worldwide, there are between 6 to 9 million that need to be treated urgently to avoid death,” said Michel Kazatchkine, director of the French National Agency on AIDS Research.

    US promises

    Bush promised $15 billion for AIDS


    US President George W. Bush called on Congress on Saturday to fully fund his $15 billion plan to combat the disease and make anti-viral treatment available to about 2 million HIV-infected people in Africa and the Caribbean.

    While many scientists have praised Bush for pledging steps to battle the disease that is killing more than 8,000 people per day, some worry that the United States will not fulfill its promises quickly.

    "We're concerned the president is designing his trip to be a victory lap around the continent with photo-ops and empty rhetoric," said Dr. Paul Zeitz, executive director of the Global AIDS Alliance, referring to Bush’s African tour which ended on Saturday.

    The United States filed a complaint with the World Trade Organization in 2001 against Brazil for passing a law that would give patent protection only to AIDS drugs produced locally.

    Many scientists and activists believe Washington's challenge threatens Brazil's free AIDS drugs policy. 


    The deadly HIV virus that causes AIDS has infected close to 30 million people in Africa alone.

    Experts believe about 4 million need drugs that can keep patients alive for years by suppressing the virus. Only about 50,000 receive such therapy now, as prices have been out of reach for most Africans.

    SOURCE: Agencies


    How different voting systems work around the world

    How different voting systems work around the world

    Nearly two billion voters in 52 countries around the world will head to the polls this year to elect their leaders.

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    Russian-Saudi relations could be very different today, if Stalin hadn't killed the Soviet ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

    The great plunder: Nepal's stolen treasures

    The great plunder: Nepal's stolen treasures

    How the art world's hunger for ancient artefacts is destroying a centuries-old culture. A journey across the Himalayas.