PIP: AIDS in Africa is killing more people than all of Africa's armed conflicts during this century--this is what delegates heard at the 11th International Conference on AIDS and STDs in Lusaka, Zambia, September 12-16, 1999. The epidemic has been contained in the rich Northern Hemisphere. But why the difference? Delegates considered many reasons, such as war, crumbling health infrastructure, increasing unemployment, and poverty. The conference concentrated on the impact of HIV/AIDS on communities, and on socioeconomic, ethical, political, and legal factors. Only one of the five sessions was devoted to basic science and clinical care. There was realism concerning the limited role of antiretroviral therapy and excitement concerning improved prevention of parent-to-child transmission, especially if single-dose nevirapine proves effective. Delegates emphasized the need for more research and development of vaccines, the female condom, and vaginal virucides, all of which are commercially unattractive to drug companies. Callisto Medavo, World Bank vice-president, launched ACT-Africa, which promises extra resources, enhanced treatment, and more technical support. Together these should assist African leaders and mobilize civil society and the private sector to intensify action against HIV/AIDS. Peter Piot, executive director of UNAIDS, also emphasized the vital importance of sustained political involvement at the highest level to contain the pandemic and prevent this regional crisis from becoming a global catastrophe.