This afternoon I was doing some literature research at home, where I can access some journals (those that use passwords for access, rather than IP addresses) but not others. Of the ones I could access, many had an extra barrier - a special charge for access to more than the most recent archives. I noticed some HIV papers in Science, from the mid-nineties, and thought how useful it would be if these papers, the ones that were discussing the evidence arising from research into the pathogenesis of AIDS and the involvement of HIV, were available for everyone to read (I couldn't get to them either).

This evening, Peter Suber put a preprint of his latest proposal online: "Unbinding Past Medical Journals - A proposal for providing open access to past research articles, starting with the most important".

Abstract: If an authoritative scholar or organization assembled a bibliography of the most important previously published research articles on a subject of urgent public need, such as the treatment and prevention of HIV/AIDS, then the journals that published those articles might be persuaded to provide open access to them retroactively. This article discusses the costs and benefits to journals that participate in such a project and calls on scientists, journals, public-interest organizations, and foundations to experiment with such projects in order to accelerate research on topics where it is most needed.

There are a lot of papers to choose from:

hiv papers

Though to be more accurate that should probably only include those papers that are specifically on the subject of HIV, rather than those that just mention the word: