The most recent UNAIDS figures indicate that approximately 30 million people are infected with HIV worldwide, 5.8 million of whom were newly infected during 1997. At the 10th International Conference on AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Diseases in Africa, the President and Secretary of Health of France called upon developed countries to establish a Therapeutic Assistance Fund to make antiretrovirals available to people with HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa. While the annual per capita health budget in most African countries is less than US$10, triple antiretroviral therapy against AIDS in the developed world costs $12,000-14,000 per patient per year. Calculations based upon a lower per patient cost of $7000, and treating all 1.4 million African AIDS cases, would cost US$10 billion per year for drugs alone, more than 30 times the amount currently spent annually by international donors for AIDS programs in the entire developing world. Basic infrastructural requirements would have to be met were antiretrovirals made widely available, ranging from HIV screening and counseling to the provision of clean water with which to consume the required 20-30 tablets per day. High program costs will challenge long-term sustainability. Universal access to care and treatment for HIV infection and AIDS is not a reality in the developed world, let alone feasible in developing countries. Given the competing health care priorities in developing countries, the high costs of antiretroviral agents, poor infrastructure, and inability to sustain such a program, the French initiative is ill-advised and foolish public health practice.