The Wall Street Journal reports on the spread of AIDS in Sub-Saharan Africa through breastfeeding, resulting in the debate over whether infant formula should be made available to poor African mothers. While major formula makers say they will donate tons of free formula to HIV infected women, "Unicef (an United Nations agency) refuses to green light the gifts, because it doesn't want to endorse an industry it has long accused of abusive practices in the developing world." The rivalry started in the1970s when formula makers gave free samples to attract women in maternity wards. But when the free samples stopped, the woman's own breast milk usually was dried up. The result left "few who could afford to purchase any formula, or they diluted it to make it last longer, sometimes starving their babies in the process." "Unicef continues to lead the crusade for breast-feeding in the developing world . . but the agency is 'supportive' of formula as an option for HIV-infected mothers. However, they say they are worried about how "the despretly poor, HIV-infected women who do choose formula are supposed to get it." In addition, Unicef says "it has ample evidence of wrongful industry marketing efforts in developing world countries . . . and fear the industry will try to exploit the AIDS crisis as a way to build its African market. The Wall Street Journal looks at this debate and raises questions on the efforts to fight this worldwide disease.
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