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Vatican calls for cheaper drugs to treat HIV/AIDS patients

 The price of anti-retroviral drugs must be reduced in order to treat HIV/AIDS patients, Cardinal Lozano Barragan, president of the Pontifical Council for Pastoral Care of Health Workers and the Sick said yesterday. In a message for World AIDS Day, the cardinal also called for also the intensification of information campaigns in order to avoid mother/child transmission of the virus and greater attention for most vulnerable social groups. A recent study showed that women are physically more liable to become infected than men. This year the United Nations Organisation programme for AIDS, UNAIDS decided to dedicate the Day to women and girls and HIV/AIDS. In his World AIDS Day message, the Cardinal said: "The Church has always defended women and their very great dignity with especial vigour and is struggling to fight those examples of discrimination which still today, in a great deal of our society, require greater efforts to secure the elimination of disparities in relation to women in such sectors as education, the defence of health, and work." He also referred to the recent UN report The impact of AIDS 2004 which reveals that since the epidemic first appeared more than 22 million people have died of AIDS and at present 42 million are infected with HIV/AIDS. The Cardinal said: "Responding to the sorrowful appeal of the Holy Father, the Catholic Church, ever since the appearance of this terrible scourge, has always made her contribution both to preventing the transmission of the HIV virus and to looking after AIDS victims and their families at the medical assistance, social, spiritual and pastoral levels. At the present time, 26.7% of the centres dedicated to treating HIV/AIDS in the world are Catholic." Source: Fides