Drugs For African Aids Epidemic Essay

Drugs For African Aids Epidemic Essay

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At Apple stores across the world, bright red iPhone cases quickly grab the attention of passerby. Sleek and shiny, these cases are fashionable accessories that teenagers love. The products appear even more attractive by Apple’s claim that each case sold will help provide life-sustaining drugs for African AIDs victims. The iPhone cases are prime examples of Product RED: an initiative that partners with world-class brands to donate a percentage of their profits to help end the AIDs epidemic in Africa. Founded by U2 lead singer Bono, RED attempts to harness the power of American consumption to drive humanitarian aid to Africa. While initially promising, Product RED is largely unsuccessful in practice because of its narrow mission: providing antiretroviral (ARV) therapy to HIV+ African women and children. RED’s singular focus on providing antiretroviral therapy to African AIDs victims prevents the campaign from being effective.

First, RED’s focus on ARV therapy is ineffective because it allows RED to overlook the more successful prevention treatments that exist to combat the AIDs epidemic. UNAIDs has consistently ranked combination-prevention treatments as a successful venue of stopping the spread of HIV in Africa. These treatments combine biomedical, behavioral, and societal prevention methods to limit the spread of AIDs (“Combination HIV Prevention,” 2010, “The Case for Combination Prevention,” para. 1). A current combination-prevention is PEPFAR, which was started in 2003 under President Bush. PEPFAR is the cornerstone of the Global Health Initiative, which focuses on gender equality and mother-child prevention in sub-Saharan Africa – goals similar to those of the RED initiative (“PEPFAR, n.d, “Targets and Achievements,” par...


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...mpaign from effectively treating AIDs through ARV treatment alone.

Although antiretroviral therapy for AIDs victims is undoubtedly important, Product RED is not the appropriate organization to provide these drugs. Not only is RED unable to provide sustainable ARV therapy for African AIDs victims, but RED’s singular focus on ARV drugs also causes significant collateral damages. RED chooses to focus on ARVs not because they believe the drugs are effective, but rather because RED can easily exaggerate the impact of ARVs to western consumers. When Bono states that RED products save the lives of African victims by providing them with ARV drugs, he is grossly misrepresenting the seriousness and scale of the African AIDs epidemic to help his participating companies profit. RED’s focus on antiretroviral therapy is a matter of ease and marketing, not effective philanthropy.

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