Doctors demand immediate access to antiretroviral drugs in Africa

BMJ 2001; 322 doi: (Published 28 April 2001) Cite this as: BMJ 2001;322:1018
  1. Annabel Ferriman
  1. Kampala

    Sub-Saharan Africa is bound to become the biggest user of antiretroviral drugs in the world, so it has to start preparing to use them now, a conference of AIDS experts was told last week.

    More than 25 million people in the region are HIV positive, out of a total of 36 million worldwide, yet only a few thousand are being treated with antiretroviral drugs. These drugs could turn AIDS in Africa into a treatable, though chronic, disease, as they have done in the United States, Europe, and Australia, the conference heard.

    Dr Peter Mugyenyi, director of the Joint Clinical Research Centre in Kampala, Uganda, told the conference, hosted by the centre and convened by the Rockefeller Foundation, that there was “moral outrage” over the continued loss of prime life in Africa when effective drugs existed and were cheap to manufacture.

    “Be conscious of the deadly high cost of delay, and act now,” Dr Mugyenyi said. “Three million people died last year alone, of which an estimated 2.4 million were Africans. That is the equivalent of the populations of Botswana and Swaziland put together,” he told the 200 participants, who were drawn from academia, technical agencies such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and the National Institutes of Health, donor foundations, and non-governmental organisations.

    Dr Mugyenyi said that …

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