What more can the richer governments do to help?
Countries like the US, Japan, the European Community and others are actually very well-off by world standards and can easily the afford the small amounts needed to help stop AIDS. These counties need to provide, together, about $10 billion a year to finance programs of prevention, care and treatment. They need to stop lending money irresponsibly and they should cancel old debts so the debt payments can be put into AIDS and other programs. They also need to make sure poor countries can buy AIDS medications at generic prices.

What do these victims really need the most?
They need those of us living in wealthy countries to support the efforts these victims are already making to stop the crisis. Africans and others are not at all helpless – but they do need support for their courageous efforts to address the AIDS catastrophe. Educational programs, prevention campaigns, treatment with affordable, effective medication, functioning health care systems, care for the sick and dying, care for orphans, clean water – all of these things are desperately needed. Plus respect for human rights and dignity.

What’s going to happen if this goes on without help?
If we don’t act now, HIV/AIDS will have infected 50 million people by 2005. Last year (2000) 5.3 million more people became infected. Besides in Africa, UNAIDS reports that AIDS is spreading rapidly in the Caribbean, Eastern Europe, and many parts of Asia. If we don’t do all we can, the global number of AIDS orphans may reach 40 million before the year 2010.

What does “drop the debt” mean? And, why?
Many countries heavily impacted by AIDS also owe billions of dollars to wealthy creditors. Because of downturns in the world economy countries were not able to make their payments and the debts piled up. The indebtedness has meant that countries have spent more on payments on their debts than they have available to pay for education or health care for their people.The limited debt relief already provided some impoverished countries has saved them a a total of almost $1 billion in debt payments. As a result of receiving debt relief, several countries have stepped up spending on AIDS programs. Yet, impoverished countries participating in the debt relief programs are still paying out more than $700 million yearly in debt service to the IMF and World Bank. Debt cancellation can contribute to stopping the AIDS crisis if it is made deeper than the current package. In addition, the debts of a broader group of countries must be addressed.