U.S. To Loan $1B To Fight AIDS

The United States will reportedly give sub-Saharan African nations $1billion in annual loans to help finance the cost of American AIDS drugs and medical services.

According to The New York Times this comes after five multinational drug companies back in May agreed to slash AIDS drug prices they charge those nations.

"This is at least a first step in showing the world that Africa is important to the U.S. and that we can make a dent in this terrible problem," said James Harmon, president of the United States Export-Import Bank, an independent government agency financed by Congress.

But even a discounted "cocktail" of AIDS-suppressing drugs might cost $2,000 per year for an African patient, more than four times the average per capita income in many countries, reports the Times.

The loan program is the first time the bank has offered financing for drug purchases by any nation, Harmon said.

The bank plans to make money available to 24 eligible sub-Saharan nations for five-year terms, with most loans expected to carry an interest rate of about 7 percent.

Nearly 70 percent of the world's 34 million people infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, live in sub-Saharan Africa. More than 2 million people died in the region last year and nearly all the 11 million AIDS orphans live there.

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