R.E.M., Carlos Santana, Sarah McLachlan, and members of Rage Against The Machine are among the music heavyweights who have signed an Internet petition to support South African AIDS research activists.

R.E.M., Carlos Santana, Sarah McLachlan, and members of Rage Against The Machine are among the music heavyweights who have signed an Internet petition to support South African AIDS research activists. The petition is sponsored by Doctors Without Borders/Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), a worldwide emergency aid organization.

South African president Nelson Mandela signed a 1997 law improving access to AIDS medicine in the country, but the pharmaceutical industry has fought the legislation in court for the past four years. The petition calls on 39 companies to drop all pending cases.

"I think that it is appalling that the pharmaceutical industry insists on placing profits before people, and continues to oppose the South African government's attempts to improve access to medicines," MSF's South African AIDS project coordinator Dr. Eric Goemaere said in a statement. "This case has struck a chord with people around the world because it exposes the lengths that the industry will go to protect its patents and profits, despite the immense human cost. I know that thousands -- if not millions -- of people worldwide agree. I urge them to sign this petition."

The petition, which can be filled out on Doctors Without Borders' official Web site, will be presented to the pharmaceutical companies at a press conference in South Africa on Tuesday (April 17).

In 1999, Doctors Without Borders was one of three international relief organizations that received proceeds from the Epic compilation album "No Boundaries." The set, which featured Pearl Jam's No. 2 Billboard Hot 100 hit "Last Kiss," raised more than $1 million for Kosovo refugees in the former Yugoslavia and sold more than 820,000 copies in the U.S., according to SoundScan..