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AIDS / Treatment versus Prevention - 2002-06-04

A recent article in the medical journal The Lancet is stirring debate over the best way to deal with the AIDS pandemic. The article says the Global Fund to Fight AIDS has received only one-fifth of the money it needs to provide grants for both prevention and treatment.

The authors say since it is much cheaper to prevent HIV infection than to treat it, more resources should go toward prevention. This includes ensuring a safe blood supply, drug therapy to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV, voluntary counseling and testing, and sex-work intervention programs.

One of those highly critical of the article is a Nigerian-born doctor, Vincent Idemyor. He is director of pharmaceutical services at Advocate Bethany Hospital in Chicago and teaches at the University of Illinois College of Medicine.

Dr. Idemyor says there is enough money in the United States and other developed countries to easily raise twenty billion dollars a year to combat HIV/AIDS. He estimates that out of the twenty five million people in sub-Saharan Africa believed infected with HIV, only about twenty thousand are actually receiving treatment.

He says it is immoral not to provide treatment. He says if there is the will, then the money can be raised. He spoke with English to Africa reporter Joe De Capua.