AIDS Activists Seek Renewed Commitment to Anti-AIDS Effort in Wake of Sept. 11 Attacks, War
With the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon and the war in Afghanistan having "diverted attention and resources" away from the "campaign against AIDS," AIDS activists say they hope World AIDS Day will "refocus" attention on their efforts to fight the disease in developing countries, the AP/Newark Star-Ledger reports. Since the Sept. 11 attacks, contributions to the U.N.'s Global Fund to Fight AIDS have dropped "sharply," but activists say they hope the United States' "current turmoil" will give the country a "broader international outlook" that will make it "more eager than ever to work alongside poorer nations against such scourges as AIDS." The recent anthrax attacks also "appea[r] to have changed" the United States' "outlook on drug patents and prices," Daniel Berman of Doctors Without Borders said. Deaths from anthrax-tainted mail "sparked government pressure" on Bayer Corp. to lower prices of the antibiotic Cipro by threatening to authorize generic production. "Instead of this issue being seen as something to do with poor countries far away, suddenly it was our health at stake," Berman said (AP/Newark Star-Ledger, 11/30). Congress is "on pace" to appropriate $200 million this fiscal year to the U.N. fund, a figure that has "dismayed AIDS activists." But some in Congress are seeking a "much larger appropriation -- up to $1.2 billion." Sens. Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) and John Kerry (D-Mass.) are heading a new task force seeking to increase America's participation in the global effort against AIDS. "The events of Sept. 11 may have temporarily shifted our legislative focus, but our resolve to stop the death toll for HIV/AIDS remains a top priority," Frist said. Still, some activists are "skeptical" of the United States' commitment to the global fight against AIDS, the AP/Richmond Times-Dispatch reports. Asia Russell of ACT UP Philadelphia said, "The United States has spent more time and money bailing out the airline industry than investing in life-extending medications for Africa" (AP/Richmond Times-Dispatch, 11/30).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.