When the AIDS crises began in the early 1980’s, it was seen as just that: a massive health crisis that demanded immediate attention. With the advent of sophisticated anti-retroviral drugs and educational programs that have substantially increased the life spans of those infected with the disease and reduced its spread, the immediacy of the epidemic has faded from public consciousness.
In Africa however, the situation couldn’t be more different. AIDS continues to spread like wildfire, and to kill at a devastating rate. The United States and other western nations have pledged to increase aid and work with African governments to fight this 21st century plague.
While the U.S. has been criticized for earmarking most of its aid to treatment rather than prevention, we have also come under fire for limiting nongovernmental organizations from advising women about reproductive options and for spending our efforts promoting abstinence and not instead of educating about safe sex practices
Additionally, U.S. pharmacuetical companies have been accused of caring more about profits than lives. While anti-retrovirals have had a huge impact on the longevity of AIDS patients in the West, their cost is prohibitively high for all but the wealthiest of Africans, and pharmaceutical companies have resisted calls for the licensing of cheaper, generic versions for fear of diluting their intellectual property.
What are the roles and obligations of the United States and other wealthy nations as we assist Africa in fighting this terrible disease? Is an organization that sees this epidemic as an opportunity to proselytize helping, or hurting in the fight against AIDS? Is it fair for pharmaceutical companies to worry about profit margins when the human toll that from AIDS is wreaking is so high? Come to a Café Society near you to discuss these and other important issues.
This Week’s Articles
- U.S. AIDS Policy: Priority On Treatment, Conservatives’ Approach to Prevention
- In Africa, AIDS has a Woman’s Face
- AIDS orphans in sub-Saharan Africa: a looming threat to future generations
- On family planning, US vs. much of the world
- AIDS and Africa The End of Denial?
For more informaiton, please contact Kristin Millikan at 312.422.5580.