Ethiopians Rally for Cheaper AIDS Drugs
Thousands of Ethiopians rallied in the streets of Addis Ababa on Sunday, calling on the government to pass legislation allowing for the importation of cheaper generic AIDS medications, Reuters/Contra Costa Times reports. The rally, organized by Dawn of Hope, a charity run by HIV-positive people, was intended to encourage the Ethiopian government to "follow the example" of South Africa and Kenya, which have both passed laws allowing for the importation and manufacture of generic AIDS drugs. "We appeal to the government to make life-prolonging drugs available without delay, as is being done in the rest of sub-Saharan Africa. If they are imported tax-free, people like us who cannot afford the expensive medicines might be able to prolong our lives," Tadesse Aynalem of Dawn of Hope said to the protestors. According to officials at the Ethiopian HIV/AIDS Secretariat, the agency is working to make cheaper antiretroviral medications available to the public within the next three months and is also "encourag[ing]" local drug makers to produce the drugs, which have "dramatically" reduced the number of AIDS-related deaths in the United States and Europe. The Ethiopian government announced plans in June for a five-year public awareness campaign designed to promote safer sex. The campaign "warn[s]" that if HIV transmission is not "rapidly controlled," a third of all Ethiopians between the ages of 15 and 20 could die of AIDS-related complications. Nearly three million of the country's 60 million people are infected with HIV, and there are more than 900,000 AIDS orphans in Ethiopia (Reuters/Contra Costa Times, 8/5).This is part of the Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.