France accuses U.S. of HIV drug 'blackmail'
U.N.: Orphan crisis pandemic's 'cruelest legacy'
BANGKOK, Thailand -- France accused the United States of "blackmail" tactics to pressure poor countries into ceding rights to make cheap generic HIV drugs, while the AIDS Conference issued a stirring call Monday to get more medicine to millions of needy in the developing world.
"A vicious terrorist is out there. It is not Osama bin Laden, it is AIDS," Hollywood actor Richard Gere told the conference. "The biggest threat to our livelihood, our happiness is AIDS."
A U.S. official denied the French allegation as "nonsense," while conference delegates lamented World Health Organization figures that show only about 7 percent of the 6 million people in poor countries who need antiretroviral treatment are getting it.
"All of us with the power and responsibility to make a difference, can only hang our heads in shame," said Jim Kim, WHO's AIDS director. "We know what we need to do. We know prevention and treatment must be accelerated together."
Since the last AIDS conference in Barcelona in 2002 generated optimism about the availability of new antiretroviral drugs, 6 million people have died of AIDS and 10 million people have become newly infected.