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Bill Clinton Announces Deal for Low-Cost Pediatric AIDS Treatment


Former U.S. President Bill Clinton's foundation has negotiated with Indian drug companies to make affordable treatment available to thousands of children afflicted with the AIDS virus. Anjana Pasricha reports for VOA from New Delhi, where Mr. Clinton made the announcement.

Mr. Clinton appeared at a high-profile gathering at a crowded children's hospital in New Delhi Thursday. He said that two drug companies will supply anti-retroviral drugs to children at prices nearly 50 percent cheaper than the lowest current rates.

These drugs, to be produced by Indian pharmaceutical companies Ranbaxy and Cipla, could cost as little as 16 cents a day. They will help to treat an additional 100,000 HIV-positive children in 62 developing countries, starting next year.

Mr. Clinton called it a great day, but said there is a long way to go. He said the world has made progress in expanding HIV/AIDS treatment to adults, but children have been left behind. Currently, only one in 10 children in need of such treatment is getting it.

The Clinton Foundation says it will provide $15 million to subsidize the program. The international drug-buying facility called UNITAID, set up by France, Britain, Norway, Brazil and Chile, will give another $35 million. The drugs will be distributed through the public health systems of developing countries.

The new program will help provide drugs for 10,000 children in India, the country with the largest number of people afflicted with the AIDS virus.

I.S. Gilada heads the People's Health Association, is one of the pioneers in AIDS prevention in India. He says there are as many as 150,000 children in India afflicted with the AIDS virus, and most do not get treatment.

"It is critical to reach children," said Gilada. "If you save a child with HIV infection, you are saving 62 years of average life, so saving the life of the child is more important."

The Clinton Foundation earlier negotiated a reduction in the price of anti-AIDS drugs for adults with the same drug companies that will now provide cheaper drugs for children. This has helped governments in many developing countries provide affordable treatment to those in need of it.

The foundation was set up in 2002 to help poor countries cope with the spread of AIDS.

From New Delhi, Mr. Clinton is to travel to southern India, to see progress made in rehabilitating victims of the tsunami that swept the Indian Ocean in December 2004.

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