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Fair Pricing demo at AIDS Conference

  "Access for All" & "Greed = Death" are Rallying Cries
   (Vancouver, July 7) -- Hundreds of AIDS activists from around the
   world demonstrated during the opening session of the IX International
   AIDS Conference. Members of the activist group ACT UP (the AIDS
   Coalition to Unleash Power) unfurled banners during the ceremony
   proclaiming "Roche, Merck, and Abbot: Greed = Death", and "Demand
   Access for All", threw bundles of "AIDS Profiteer" money into the
   air, distributed leaflets to conference attendees, and brought the
   ceremony to a halt while they chants, whistles, and sirens. Among
   their chants targeting drug companies were "greed kills -access for
  Activists expect a "don't worry, be happy" message to be the central
  theme of the XIth International AIDS Conference, due to the recent
  advent of a new class of anti-HIV drugs called protease inhibitors.
  "Some people are doing very well on these new therapies, and we do not
  argue with that fact," said ACT UP/Philadelphia member Asia Russell.
  "However, these people represent a very small fraction of the 19
  million people on this planet who are living with HIV. The prices
  being charged for combination protease inhibitor therapy leaves
  millions of people with HIV for dead. Public health systems world-wide
  will be bankrupted."
  Most people with HIV in the world will never be benefit from the
  treatment advances being discussed at this meeting."
  Most of the conference's attention focused on a new class of drugs
  called protease inhibitors that show promise in slowing the progress
  of AIDS as a disease. However, many questions remain on the effects of
  long-term effects of these drugs, and because their price is so high,
  they will only be available to those whose national health programs or
  private insurance will cover it.
  "Access is now one of the big issues for people living with AIDS
  around the world", said Asia Russell of ACT UP/Philadelphia. "It's not
  just treatments, but a whole range of matters such as information,
  education, advocacy, prevention, international aid, testing, and basic
  health care."
  More than 19 million people are infected with the HIV virus worldwide,
  but only a few million have access to AIDS drugs. In many countries,
  there are no effective AIDS medications and even the HIV test is too
  expansive for most people to afford. even inexpensive drugs to prevent
  AIDS-related pneumonia, a leading killer of people with HIV, are out
  of reach for most people. In other countries, even the HIV test is too
  expensive for many to afford.