AIDS Group Forms Company to Provide Cheap Drugs

With 600 South Africans dying daily of AIDS-related diseases, a
group of researchers and activists — attacking government’s ‘lack
of political will’ — have formed a company to sell cheap
anti-retroviral drugs. The Generic Anti-retroviral Procurement
Project (GARPP) was launched after a mass protest sponsored by the
Treatment Action Campaign (TAC). The group charges that the South
African government officials have been ‘foot dragging’ on
implementing a national anti-retroviral treatment plan.

The launching of the company, which will sell the pills at
roughly $40 a month (cheaper than what is now on the market), comes
at a critical time for the country. There are an estimated 5
million people living with HIV/AIDS. Roughly 600,000 are ready to
start treatment with anti-retrovirals, but only about 1,500 in the
state sector and 20,000 in the private sector are receiving
treatment.

The protesters carried signs that said, ‘two pills a day saves
lives.’ Peter Piot, UNAIDS executive director, agrees with that
analysis by saying that prevention and treatment are both essential
aspects of the world response to AIDS. ‘Throughout the world, the
debate is not on whether to offer anti-retroviral treatment in the
public sector, but how to do it given the numerous real
constraints,’ he said. ‘But for heaven’s sake, let us not wait to
act until we have the perfect solution, because the era of the
perfect solution is still far away.’
Joel Stonington

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AIDS
Group Forms Company to Provide Cheap Drugs

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