[Ip-health] MSF: Target of 15 million people on HIV treatment by 2015 secured at AIDS summit

Joanna Keenan joanna.l.keenan at gmail.com
Thu Jun 9 09:44:00 PDT 2011

*Target of 15 million people on HIV treatment by 2015 secured at** AIDS

* *

*Funds and affordable drugs needed to turn target into treatment *

* *

*NEW YORK, 9 June 2011* – On the heels of new evidence that shows HIV
treatment is also HIV prevention, governments meeting at a UN Summit on AIDS
have taken a critical step by committing to reach 15 million people with HIV
treatment by 2015 – but they must take immediate concrete action to make
this treatment target a reality, the international medical humanitarian
organisation Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)/Doctors Without Borders said

“By agreeing to expand HIV treatment to 15 million people in four years,
governments are committing to take the latest science that treatment is
prevention and turn it into policies that save lives and can stop the
virus,” said Sharonann Lynch, HIV/AIDS Policy Advisor for MSF’s Campaign for
Access to Essential Medicines. “The clock starts now – everyday, we need to
get more people on treatment than the day before.”

Fresh scientific evidence shows that treatment is also a form of prevention,
as it reduces the risk of transmission of HIV from one person to another by
96 percent.  By ambitiously expanding treatment, according to new research
by UNAIDS, twelve million infections and more than seven million deaths can
be averted by 2020.  It could also reduce by more than half the number of
new infections by 2015. This will require an additional $6 billion top up
each year until 2015.  However, funding for AIDS declined in both 2009 and
2010, leaving the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria, the
US-government’s PEPFAR and other programs short of resources.

“There are nine million people waiting for HIV treatment today,” said Dr
Tido von Schoen-Angerer, Executive Director of MSF’s Access Campaign. “This
whole AIDS Summit will have been a farce if we don’t see real plans to ramp
up treatment so we can get ahead of the wave of new infections.”

Countries also need to ensure that the medicines needed to break the back of
the epidemic remain affordable. This means not just supporting policies that
drive down prices, but refraining from pushing policies that drive up prices
by imposing ever tighter intellectual property protection.  In particular,
free trade agreements negotiated by the US, the EU and others with
developing countries are creating further barriers to price-busting generic
competition, and threaten access to affordable newer medicines.

“Without affordable medicines, access to treatment cannot become a reality,”
said Michelle Childs, policy/advocacy director of MSF’s Access Campaign.
“Over six million people are on treatment today, largely because generic
production drove the price of the first generation of AIDS medicines down by
99% since 2000. This success can only be repeated with newer and more potent
medicines if barriers to low-cost drug production are removed. But countries
are making promises to treat AIDS in one meeting and working hard to keep
prices out of reach behind closed doors in other meetings. This double-speak
has to stop.”

The final declaration ending the UN General Assembly High-Level Meeting on
HIV/AIDS is expected to be formally endorsed by countries on 10 June.

* *

*MSF currently provides antiretroviral treatment to 170,000 people living
with HIV/AIDS in 19 countries and sources more than 80 percent of the
antiretroviral medicines it uses in its projects from generic manufacturers
in India. *

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