HIV Still a Death Sentence for the Poor

Despite the glowing praise coming out of the Syndey conference, HIV remains a death sentence for those unable to access the most modern treatments.

On the one hand there is progress in how we are able to treat the disease:

Sydney – HIV infection is no longer a death sentence, with patients likely to have a “fairly robust” life expectancy if given the right drugs, a major HIV/Aids conference in Australia heard on Monday.

Michael Lederman, of Case Western Reserve University, has been treating HIV patients for more than 20 years and said he has seen such improvements that he believes the world could be on the cusp of ending the pandemic.

But thanks to the unchecked greed of the pharmaceutical companies, that progress comes at a steep price:

Newer, less toxic anti-AIDS drugs will cost a whopping 500 per cent more, according to a report launched Monday at an international AIDS conference by the medical humanitarian organization Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF). The substantial price increase, from 99 to 487 dollars, was for first-line combination antiretroviral treatment recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

In addition, new infections are outpacing treatment:

Dr Anthony Fauci told a conference in Sydney that progress had been made, but more people were being infected with HIV than were being treated.

“For every one person that you put in therapy, six new people get infected. So we’re losing that game, the numbers game,” he said.

The crisis of HIV/Aids is shifting from a scientific struggle to a socio-economic struggle.  The disease is treatable now, but for many, that treatment is beyond their reach.  The pharmaceutical companies and the governments that shelter their ip claims and their profiteering are putting the value of a dollar over the value of human life.

HIV will cease to be a death sentence when we step in to stop the executions.  Left unchecked, pharmaceutical companies are not likely to develop a conscience.

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