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AIDS at 25

Helen Palmer Jun 5, 2006
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SCOTT JAGOW: June 5, 1981, the world’s first AIDS case was diagnosed. Since then, 25 million people have died from the disease and billions of dollars have been spent. From the Health Desk at WGBH, Helen Palmer looks to the future.


HELEN PALMER: Within the next 15 years, HIV/AIDS is expected to infect 100 million people, mostly in the developing world. $8 billion was spent to slow its spread last year, but experts say at least $20 billion’s needed annually. International donors like the US will give most of that, but Paul De Lay of UNAIDS says some countries need to do more.

PAUL DE LAY: China, India clearly could do more financially.

The epidemic’s exploding in Asia. India already has one in eight cases. Preventing infection would be much cheaper than treating the disease, but cultural factors like the status of women and some donors’ refusal to promote condoms or clean needles for drug addicts mean the virus is out of control. One key stakeholder is stepping in to help though.

PRIYA BERY: The business sector as a whole can pretty much make anything happen that it wants to.

Priya Bery of the Global Business Coalition on HIV/AIDS says mining companies in Africa proved the cash value of testing and treating workers. Now the coalition’s 200 members are using their skills to expand services in the developing world. And they’re raising cash through the Product Red campaign.

BERY: Product Red has raised, in two short months, over $10 million. That’s a lot of money.

GAP, Motorola, American Express, Converse &mdash, they’re all marketing Red-themed products and 40% of sales price goes to the UN’s AIDS fund. Bery says fighting AIDS is not only the moral thing for business to do, it helps ensures productivity and healthy consumers.

In Boston, I’m Helen Palmer for Marketplace.

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