A Grand Mufti, Egypt’s religious highest-up, in May, issued a “fatwa against piracy.” The command calls for punishment of those who defy copyright laws, including unlicensed making or selling of antiretrovirals. In addition to Allah’s orders, Egypt’s parliament -- with a push from the U.S. -- drafted a new intellectual-property law. Patent-busters risk walking the plank for a three-year jail term and $3,000 fine. At the other end of the continent, Zimbabwe prez Robert Mugabe declared an official six-month national AIDS emergency to make it easier to acquire generic antiretrovirals. But with few funds tagged for treatment, critics say the move was more about saving face than lives following a re-election widely viewed as stolen. “This declaration smacks more of political expediency than a commitment to those living with HIV,” said South African AIDS advocate Kevin Osborne.
October 1, 2002 • By Danielle Zielinski