The Times – Anti-Viral Victory<br/> New Aids drugs are a triumph of human ingenuity

When Isentress (from Merck) and another new Aids drug (from Pfizer) were first announced in the US last year, they were hailed as potentially the most important developments in Aids therapy in a decade.

Hmm, a decade of R&D and human ingenuity, eh? Sounds expensive.

In Africa, a choice of treatments is a luxury. A thousand people still die each week from Aids in South Africa alone, where President Mbeki outraged world opinion last year by sacking a deputy health minister who had dared to attend an international Aids conference without his permission, while retaining a minster – widely known as Dr Beetroot – who considers a good diet the best treatment for Aids.

NGOs are working heroically against the pandemic, and thanks to the Gates Foundation and the US Government they do not lack funds. But no national strategy will succeed without wholehearted state backing. President Bush visits Africa next month, still in search of a positive legacy. If he can shame Mr Mbeki into more positive action on Aids, he might have found one.

Hey, hey.