Only 1.6% of Funds for Research Against AIDS Is Invested in Africa

Principal Cause of Mortality in the Continent

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VATICAN CITY, JUNE 5, 2002 ( Africa has the highest number of AIDS sufferers but has the least amount of investment to combat the virus.

Only 1.6% of world funding is allocated to that continent for scientific research in this area.

This fact was criticized during a two-day meeting organized by the World Health Organization (WHO) in Somerset West, near Cape Town, South Africa. The meeting, which ended Tuesday, gathered scientists, Health Ministers, donors, and representatives of research organizations and industry.

«It is unacceptable that the continent that is home to more than two-thirds of all people living with HIV/AIDS receives so little attention,» South African Medical Research Council chief Malegapuru Makgoba told the press.

The meeting launched a campaign for a fairer share of funding into the development of an AIDS vaccine, the African AIDS Vaccine Program. WHO explains on its Web page ( that this objective will require $233 million over the next seven years.

However, experts say that the majority of people already infected will die before the vaccine is ready, even if the target date is met.

About 28 million people in Africa have the AIDS virus. AIDS is the principal cause of mortality in Africa. Coumba Toure, coordinator of the WHO program, said that only $41 million, out of a total of $2.5 billion spent since 1987, was allocated to AIDS research in Africa.

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