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Oral Answers to Questions — HIV/AIDS

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 25th April 2001.

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Photo of Clare Short Clare Short Secretary of State, Department for International Development 12:00 am, 25th April 2001

I certainly welcome the withdrawal of that court action, which was always ill advised, but it does not mean that we suddenly have an answer to the problem. Even at cost price, anti-retroviral drugs are more expensive than most African countries can afford. They might cost only $1 a day, but most countries in sub-Saharan Africa spend less than $5 a head per year on health care and most poor, infected people are not in touch with any health care system, as my hon. Friend knows. We need international co-operation between the pharmaceutical companies, the Governments of developing countries and the international community to put in place basic health care systems and deliver treatment for opportunistic infections, such as TB, which is killing more people than many other illnesses. I hope now that the court case is out of the way, we can make progress, but I hope also that no one will pretend that anti-retrovirals are the answer, because they are not.