Aid works: AIDS treatments

David Brooks has this uplifting article in the New York Times (free registration required) about the impact of access to AIDS drugs, financed by aid:

You come to Southern Africa to visit AIDS hospitals, and you expect, or at least I expected, to find unrelieved sadness. But something positive has happened recently because of the confluence of three factors. The first is the spread of antiretroviral treatment programs. Second, some African governments have gone on the offensive against the disease. And third, the U.S. and other countries are pouring in money to pay for treatments. So now you run across health workers who have been laboring for years and watching people die, but who suddenly have the means to offer life. You have, amid the ocean of despair, this archipelago of hope, hospitals that are ramping up treatment programs as fast as they can, even while bursting out of their walls. In Namibia, for example, only 500 people were receiving treatment in January 2004. Now over 9,000 people are, and the number is rising rapidly. … I came here expecting despair, but now realize that we should be redoubling our efforts out of a sense of opportunity. I came here aware of controversies about abstinence versus condoms in AIDS prevention programs, about U.S. aid versus multilateral aid, and now realize that all that nonsense is irrelevant on the ground. This is a world of people trying everything, of doctors from Russia, Egypt, Cuba, Germany and Zimbabwe. Many are backed by money from the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, finally doing the work they’ve always dreamed of doing.

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