Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/395/4484
Capitalism can't solve AIDS crisis
Forty million people globally are infected with HIV.
25 million live in Africa (10% of the population) and by 2020, 90 million Africans could be infected.
The UN has warned that current levels of 'action' could see the disease bring the entire continent to its knees and generations of Africans lost.
The British government has said it intends to push Aids vaccine research up the political agenda when it assumes the presidency of the G8 in July.
The G8 have promised to set up a Global HIV Vaccine Enterprise and pledged more funding. There are estimates that an effective safe vaccine could be available by the end of the decade - but available to whom?
These hypocritical leaders are boasting that global funding for HIV has tripled in the past four years but it is now just a little over $6 billion - less than Britain has set aside for the invasion and occupation of Iraq!
The Bush administration has committed $15 billion - compared to $173 billion spent on the war, enough to fully fund world wide AIDS programmes for the next 17 years.
The US is also pursuing a religious neo-conservative agenda which gives priority to faith-based organisations promoting sexual abstinence over condom use.
US congress woman, Barbara Lee, opposes this policy: "In an age where five million people are newly infected each year, and women and girls too often do not have the choice to abstain, an abstinence-until-marriage programme is not only irresponsible, it's inhumane".
Bush and Co.
Bush and Co. are also pushing brand name anti-retroviral drugs which are more expensive than their generic counterparts.
And despite the fall in the yearly price of treatment from around £6,000 to £180, nine out of ten people who need the medicines are still not getting these life-saving treatments. Because HIV hits the poorest in the world - over one billion people live on less than two dollars a day - HIV infection and its treatment are clearly a class issue.
Under World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules, a nation can only break drug patents if there is a national emergency but apparently the current crisis does not count. The head of Brazil's AIDS programme, Pedro Chequer, exposed the role of the WTO: "It's all a big agreement to keep developing nations hostage to the multinational industry."
While the price for the drug itself is now lower, the cost of foreign imported drugs in countries like India has increased massively from 50% to 85% of the treatment programme's cost. Local pharmaceutical firms are driven out of business as a result of the patent law.
Brazil, where the number of people with HIV has remained at about 600,000 for several years, has now broken the patent law and will be making copies of up to five drugs.
HIV/AIDS and the misery and suffering of millions worldwide have become a market for the capitalist criminals! The rampant spread of this virus and the millions it kills world wide are a by-product of this profit-driven system.
Susannah Price, the BBC UN correspondent, pointed the finger at those responsible for the epidemic by emphasising how dramatic is the impact of government policies on the spread of HIV and Aids in Africa.
A recent UN report concluded that if millions of Africans are still being infected by 2025, "it will not be because there was no choice - [but] because collectively there was insufficient political will to change behaviour at all levels..."
But there is a collective will, the real collective of ordinary people - the hundreds of thousands of demonstrators that have been protesting against the greedy drugs companies which would rather see millions die and whole communities devastated than their profits drop!
Let's show them and the rest of the world how strong our collective will is by mobilising huge numbers for the counter-G8 summit and demonstrations. The G8 are only eight, join the hundreds of thousands and demonstrate!
Make capitalism history - make socialism our future!
In The Socialist 2 June 2005: