Christian leaders are hailing the decision of 39 pharmaceutical companies to drop a lawsuit against South Africa, thus permitting the Pretoria government to buy anti-aids medicine at generic-drug prices.

The drug companies had previously opposed a South African law that allowed the importation and manufacture of generic aids drugs. Ninety percent of the people with HIV live in sub-Saharan Africa.

"This is about the primacy of protecting and preserving life, and nothing should be more important," says Setri Nyomi of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches.

But while the settlement means that South Africa and other developing nations can purchase cheaper medicines, the South African government has said that the anti-retroviral drugs will not become available immediately.

And when they do, problems will still remain, says CAFOD, a Catholic aid agency. "Many of the drugs are only effective when the patients keep up a demanding schedule of medication and nutrition—conditions which do not apply to many poor," CAFOD spokesman George Gelber says.

Still, Christian Aid representative Andrew Pendleton said the decision was a crucial first step in helping those with the virus in other developing countries. "The fact that the drug companies have backed down in South Africa means that an agenda has been set," he says. "We can hope that the same will apply elsewhere."

Related Elsewhere

For African newspapers' perspectives on the AIDS crisis, see's extensive site.

Yahoo's full coverage areas on the Africa AIDS Epidemic and South Africa the have links to many news articles and resources about AIDS drugs and other medicines in the country, including:

U.S. health boss says cheap AIDS drugs no panacea — Reuters (May 16, 2001)

AIDS vaccine hopes rise from AfricaThe Washington Post (May 11, 2001)

Novartis agrees to lower price of a medicine used in AfricaThe New York Times (May 3, 2001)

It takes a village — Thomas L. Friedman, The New York Times (Apr. 27, 2001)

AIDS in Africa | South African response is perplexing — Editorial, The Dallas Morning News (Apr. 26, 2001)

Dropping lawsuit the right move — Editorial, South Florida Sun-Sentinel (Apr. 27, 2001)

AIDS drugs not enough | Crisis in Africa is fueled by poverty and culture. — Grace-Marie Arnett, The Philadelphia Inquirer (Apr. 25, 2001)

AIDS-drug victory sours in South Africa | Government still refusing to supply AZT — The Boston Globe (Apr. 23, 2001)

South Africa's AIDS victory — Editorial, The New York Times (Apr. 20, 2001)

A global victory for better medicine — Editorial, The Age, Melbourne, Australia (Apr. 20, 2001)

Cheaper drugs for AIDS — Editorial, The Montreal Gazette (Apr. 20, 2001)

Ray of hope for Africans with AIDS — Radio Netherlands (Apr 20, 2001)

Drug makers drop South Africa suit over AIDS medicineThe New York Times (Apr 20, 2001)

Drug giants back downThe Daily Mail and Guardian, Johannesburg (Apr. 19, 2001)

South Africa and drug industry settle suit | The pharmaceutical firms dropped their case. That won't likely mean an influx of AIDS drugs into Africa. — The Philadelphia Inquirer (Apr 20, 2001)

Cheap drugs not answer to African AIDS crisis | Better health care system key — Arthur Caplan, MSNBC (Apr. 4, 2001)
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Previous Christianity Today articles about AIDS in Africa include:

Zambia's Churches Win Fight Against Anti-AIDS Ads | Church leaders are concerned that condom promotion encourages promiscuity. (Jan. 12, 2001)

Mandela, De Klerk, and Tutu Join to Fight AIDS | South Africa's men of peace call for end of silence and stigmatization. (Dec. 14, 2000)

Speaking with Action Against AIDS | A report from the Thirteenth International AIDS Conference. (July 19, 2000)

'Sexual Revolution' Speeds Spread of HIV Among Africans | An interview with World Relief's Debbie Dortzbach. (Feb. 4, 2000)

'Have We Become Too Busy With Death?' | As 4,900 people die each day from AIDS, African Christians are faced with the question. (Feb. 4, 2000)

Books & Culture Corner: An Open Letter to the U. S. Black Religious, Intellectual, and Political Leadership Regarding AIDS and the Sexual Holocaust in Africa (Jan. 24, 2000)

Africa: Fidelity Urged to Fight AIDS (July 12, 1999)

Global Death Rates May Skyrocket (May 24, 1999)

I Am the Father of an AIDS Orphan (Nov. 17, 1997)

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