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."
For African newspapers' perspectives on the AIDS crisis, see AllAfrica.com's extensive site.
U.S. health boss says cheap AIDS drugs no panacea — Reuters (May 16, 2001)AIDS vaccine ...1