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Two drug companies cut treatment prices

Former President Bill Clinton announced Thursday that two Indian pharmaceutical companies had agreed to cut the prices of HIV and AIDS treatment for children, making the lifesaving drugs far more accessible worldwide.

The companies will supply drugs for HIV-positive children at prices as low as 16 cents a day, or less than $60 a year, alllowing an additional 100,000 HIV-positive children in 62 countries to receive treatment in 2007, the foundation said.

"This is a great day, but we have a long way to go. We have to make a new commitment that every child and adult who needs treatment should have access" to the drugs, Clinton said. "Though the world has made progress in expanding HIV/AIDS treatment to adults, children have been left behind. Only one in 10 children who needs treatment is getting it."

Under the drug agreement, the two companies - Cipla Ltd. and Ranbaxy Laboratories Ltd. - will supply 19 antiretroviral formulations for prices about 45 percent less than the lowest current rates for these drugs in developing countries.

Countries including France, Brazil, Chile, Norway and Britain will provide $35-million and the Clinton Foundation HIV/AIDS Initiative will contribute $15-million.

SOUTH AFRICA

Life expectancy falls by 12 years since 1990

Fewer than half of South Africa's 15-year-olds will live to see their 60th birthday because of HIV/AIDS, according to a report.

An estimated 950 people have died per day during 2006 from AIDS-related diseases and 1,400 were infected each day - a total of 530,000 new infections, said the report by the Actuarial Society of South Africa and the Medical Research Council.

The report, issued every two years and widely used as a model for predicting the course of the disease and its impact, included an estimate that 5.4-million of South Africa's 48-million people were infected with the AIDS virus by the middle of 2006 - a figure in line with the government's own estimates issued earlier this year.

Only India is believed to have more people infected with HIV than South Africa.

The report said life expectancy dropped from 63 in 1990 to 51 in 2006. In the hardest-hit province of KwaZulu-Natal, it was as low as 43.

"The Demographic Impact of HIV/AIDS in South Africa: National and Provincial Indicators for 2006" said that 15-year-olds had a 56 percent chance of dying before the age of 60, compared with a 29 percent chance of dying in 1990.

UNITED NATIONS

Annan urges resolve from political leaders

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan called on the world's leaders to use maximum political clout to keep momentum strong in the fight against AIDS and focus on empowering women, who are increasingly affected.

Annan called the virus "the greatest challenge of our generation," but noted changing attitudes in the past decade.

"Financial resources are being committed like never before, people have access to antiretroviral treatment like never before, and several countries are managing to fight the spread like never before," the secretary-general said in a statement. "Now, as the number of infections continues unabated, we need to mobilize political will like never before."

fast facts

AIDS by the numbers

4-million new cases worldwide every year

25-million people the virus has killed

40-million people infected with the virus worldwide

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