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Brazil wins praise for Aids strategy Monday July 25, 2005
Brazil today won praise for its fight against Aids and HIV despite its refusal of US aid tied to policies favoured by socially conservative supporters of the Bush administration. At an international conference on scientific developments to combat the pandemic Dr. Helene Gayle, the president of the International
Aids Society, said Brazil was leading the way even though it had rejected some international assistance. “Brazil, by maintaining an aggressive and comprehensive approach to HIV prevention, treatment and support is really a leader for our global effort”, she told the conference. About 600,000 of Brazil’s 183 million people are infected with HIV.
Last year, the country turned down $40m (£23m) in US funding to fight Aids after Washington injected a clause condemning prostitution. Prostitution is legal in Brazil, and the health ministry said the refusal of the US aid was an issue of national sovereignty. The national anti-Aids programme provides drugs free of charge to anyone who needs them, and aggressively distributes condoms to sex workers.
The move made Brazil one of the first countries to oppose the Bush administration’s policy of linking foreign aid to policies backed by the religious right. However, the country has been criticised by some activists who say the government has struck a deal with a major pharmaceutical company to avoid breaking the patent on the firm’s anti-Aids drugs. Activists from the group Pela Vida said the deal with Abbott Laboratories to sell drugs to the government at a steep discount was insufficient to guarantee that free drugs would be available to all. The Brazilian health minister, José Saraiva Felipe, later denied the deal had been finalised. “We once again confirm the promise of Brazil to help developing countries confront this epidemic”, he said in remarks quoted by the Associated Press.
Scientists will present 2,060 papers drawn from research in 114 different countries at the four-day conference. The event opened as Bill Clinton, the former US president, launched a programme to double the number of children receiving treatment for HIV infection in Kenya by the end of the year. An estimated 100,000 children there are infected with HIV, but only 1,200 receive treatment. The Clinton Foundation aims to have 10,000 children on anti-retroviral treatment in at least 10 countries by the end of 2005.
(Guardian Unlimited © Guardian Newspapers Limited 2005 www.guardian.co.uk)
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