THANKS VERY MUCH for your thoughtful, comprehensive treatment of the AIDS epidemic in Africa in your July-August 2000 issue. I learned a great deal about the causes and extent of the problem from your articles. Two aspects were missing, however, which need to be treated.
One is the way the U.S. and other First World governments have blocked cheap AIDS-fighting medicines from being imported by the African countries. As I understand it, the Group of 77 nations of the developing global South had demanded that intellectual property rights, reflected in pharmaceutical patents, be subordinated to international human rights, especially when it comes to access to medicines for AIDS treatment at lower prices. They further appealed to the ethical responsibility of providing life-saving medications at accessible prices for developing countries and populations living in poverty. But the representatives of Western nations, influenced by the transnational drug companies, have thus far denied this request, under the neo-liberal legal legislation of the WTO.
The second matter is the absence of specific information about faith-based organizations and agencies that are effectively addressing the problem. No doubt many of your readers would like to be a part of the solution by contributing to such groups, so names, addresses, and descriptions of their ministries would be much appreciated.
The United Methodist Church's AIDS Ministry Network (http://gbgm-umc. org/programs/aidsafrica), the World Health Organization (www.aawhworldhealth.org/WAD99/resources_org. html), and the Medical Missionaries of Mary (www.medical-missionaries.com) all have helpful information on African AIDS ministry.