Bayer Diagnostics Europe And The Rome-Based Community Of Sant' Egidio Sign Agreement For HIV-Infected Patients In Africa

TARRYTOWN, N.Y., May 27 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- The Diagnostics Division of Bayer HealthCare LLC, a member of the Bayer Group announced today that it has entered into a two-year agreement with the Rome-based Community of Sant'Egidio to provide equipment and related products and services for Sant'Egidio's DREAM Project aimed at providing antiretroviral therapy for HIV-infected patients living in Mozambique and other African countries. Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Services and supplies will be made available initially in Mozambique where the DREAM Project is currently working with local government and volunteer groups to establish country-wide integrated care and treatment programs for HIV-infected patients. Bayer will supply two test kits for viral load and resistance testing -- the VERSANT(R) HIV-1 RNA 3.0 Assay (bDNA) and the TRUGENE(R) HIV-1 Genotyping Assay. Bayer will also provide scientific and technical collaboration, continuing education and training.

"Bayer's involvement in the DREAM project is important to the HIV/AIDS crisis in Africa and demonstrates tremendous compassion and corporate citizenship," said Dr. Susanna Ceffa responsible for the Biological Laboratories of the Sant'Egidio Community. "With the availability of these HIV molecular diagnostic tests, we anticipate that up to 60,000 people could benefit from viral load and resistance testing by 2006."

According to the WHO's 2004 World Health Report, one in twelve adults in Africa has HIV/AIDS. In 2003, Africa represented two thirds of the worldwide population living with HIV/AIDS and as many as 9 out of 10 HIV-positive people in the Sub-Saharan region do not know they are infected. HIV/AIDS has reversed the gains in life expectancy made in Sub-Saharan Africa, which peaked at 49 years of age during the late 1980's, and is projected to fall to just under 46 years of age by 2005.

"Our relationship with Sant'Egidio reaffirms our commitment to developing countries besieged by the devastating epidemic of HIV/AIDS and gives them the necessary resources and diagnostics tools to monitor and manage the disease effectively," said Peter Knueppel, Ph.D., Senior Vice President, Molecular Testing Segment, for Bayer HealthCare's Diagnostics Division.

HIV/AIDS Background

Human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) is a disease that destroys or impairs cells of the immune system and progressively destroys the body's ability to fight infections and certain cancers. HIV-1 can be spread by contact with human blood or bodily fluids. As the infection progresses, patients may be diagnosed with acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). People diagnosed with AIDS are susceptible to life-threatening diseases called opportunistic infections, which are caused by microbes that usually do not cause illness in healthy people.

AIDS was first reported in the United States in 1981 and has since become a worldwide epidemic. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), some 42 million people around the world live with HIV or AIDS and 5 million new cases of infection were diagnosed in 2002. HIV/AIDS caused approximately 3 million deaths worldwide in 2000, and has become the 4th leading cause of mortality in the world. Currently there is no cure.

VERSANT(R) HIV-1 RNA 3.0 Assay (bDNA)

The VERSANT HIV RNA 3.0 Assay (bDNA) is a nucleic acid probe diagnostic assay used for the direct quantification of HIV-1 RNA in the plasma of people living with HIV and uses proprietary branched DNA (bDNA) signal amplification technology. It uses more than 80 different probes targeted at the most highly conserved region of the viral genome (pol region) resulting in the detection and quantification of all major HIV-1 subtypes (Group M, clades A-G).

TRUGENE(R) HIV-1 Genotyping Assay

The TRUGENE(R) HIV-1 Genotyping Kit is a DNA sequencing assay for the detection of HIV genomic mutations that make specific types of antiretroviral drugs ineffective. The assay is for use in the therapeutic management of HIV-1 infected individuals as an aid in monitoring and treating HIV-1 infection.

About Bayer HealthCare Diagnostics

With approximately 7,000 employees worldwide and 2003 sales of $2.1 billion, Bayer HealthCare Diagnostics (, based in Tarrytown, New York, U.S.A., is one of the largest diagnostic businesses in the world. The organization supports customers in 100 countries through an extensive portfolio of central, self-testing, nucleic acid and near patient care diagnostics meters and services for use in the assessment and management of health, including the areas of cardiovascular and kidney disease, oncology, virology, women's health and diabetes. Bayer HealthCare Diagnostics' global headquarters in the United States operates as part of Bayer HealthCare LLC, a member of the worldwide Bayer HealthCare group.

About Bayer HealthCare

Bayer HealthCare AG, a subgroup of Bayer AG with sales of approximately 8.9 billion Euro in 2003, is one of the world's leading, innovative companies in the health care and medical products industry.

The company combines the global activities of the divisions Animal Health, Biological Products, Consumer Care, Diagnostics and Pharmaceuticals. 34,600 people are employed by Bayer HealthCare worldwide.

Our aim is to discover and manufacture innovative products that will improve human and animal health worldwide. Our products enhance well-being and quality of life by diagnosing, preventing and treating disease.

About the Community of Sant'Egidio

Formed in 1968 in Rome, the Community of Sant'Egidio is a non-Governmental, non-profit organization (NGO). It is a public association of lay people, recognized from the Holy See, and has more than 40,000 members, dedicated to evangelization and charity, in Rome, Italy and in more than 60 countries throughout the world. Sant'Egidio's DREAM (Drug Enhancement Resource Against AIDS and Malnutrition) Project, follows the HAART (Highly Active Anti-Retroviral Therapy) treatment regimen recommended by leading HIV experts to suppress viral replication and progress of HIV disease. The DREAM Project, already active in Mozambique, seeks to assist African men and women infected with AIDS and to prevent the vertical transmission.

The Community has as its centre the Roman Church of Sant'Egidio, from which the Community takes its name, and its address in Comunita' di Sant' Egidio, piazza S. Egidio 3/A 00153 ROMA. See also

This news release contains forward-looking statements based on current assumptions and forecasts made by Bayer Group management. Various known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors could lead to material differences between the actual future results, financial situation, development or performance of the company and the estimates given here. These factors include those discussed in our public reports filed with the Frankfurt Stock Exchange and with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (including our Form 20-F). The company assumes no liability whatsoever to update these forward-looking statements or to conform them to future events or developments

Bayer Diagnostics

CONTACT: Linda Langendonk of Bayer Diagnostics, +1-914-366-1816

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