AIDS leaders call for more world support

Over 12 million in developing world could still benefit from treatment

by Bob Roehr

Medical leaders of the International AIDS Society, meeting in Cape Town, South Africa, chastised political leaders of the developed world for inadequate support of AIDS programs in the developing world. They called for more money and greater financial concessions from the pharmaceutical industry.

IAS president Julio Montaner said the leaders of the eight wealthiest countries (GS) pledged in 2005 to fight for universal access to AIDS treatments by 2010, but at their meeting this month in Italy, they didn't even mention the word AIDS.

"The silence of the G8 leaders is not just pathetic, it is criminal," said Dr. Montaner, who runs AIDS programs in the province of British Columbia, Canada.

More than 3 million people in the developing world have started antiretroviral therapy over the last four years but 12 million people could benefit from those drugs. Some treatment programs have declined to start more patients on treatment because they cannot guarantee continued access to those drugs.

The group Medecins San Frontieres - in English, Doctors Without Borders - released a report saying that stagnating donations and the high cost of second-generation drugs "are putting the lives of thousands of poor patients at risk" every day.

The World Health Organization recommended in 2006 that an initial therapy should be based upon the drug tenofovir. But most patients in the developing world are on stavudine (d4t), an older drug that costs about half the price of tenofovir.

However, HIV more readily mutates resistance to stavudine, and it is associated with the side effects of disfiguring lipodystrophy and painful peripheral neuropathy. That is why few patients in the U.S. and Europe continue to use stavudine.

MSF urged pharmaceutical companies to deposit their drug patents into a "patent pool" that generic manufacturers might use under set licensing terms, with the freedom to create pills that combine several drugs as they see fit. The patent holders have been cool to the idea.

The MSF report also called for development of a simple, rapid, inexpensive diagnostic to measures HIV viral load in developing countries. Many groups have tried to create such a tool but with limited success. Monitoring of viral load is standard practice in the US but rare in the developing world.

As a result, patient there stay on a failing regimen longer, until they develop clinical symptoms of that failure, such as an opportunistic infection. That results in greater and often irreversible damage to their immune systems. It allows the virus to develop resistance to other drugs in the combination that might not yet have failed.

Gregg Gonsalves, with the International Treatment Preparedness Coalition, said, "The MSF report puts the focus back on real people living with HIV disease and warns us that saving millions of lives depends on a renewed push for universal access to antiretroviral therapy, which will require significant new investments in global health."

The HIV Vaccines and Microbicides Resource Tracking Working Group, a coalition of several organizations, released a report showing that in 2008, for the first time, there was a decline in spending on the search for a vaccine for HIV.

The decline was primarily because two major vaccine trials were halted early, in late 2007, because of poor results and those allocated funds were not spent. It noted that only 4 percent of HIV vaccine research funding is coming from the private sector, with the vast majority coming from government and foundations. The NIH is the largest single funder of HIV vaccine research.

More News

MI Marriage Trial

Michigan Same Sex Couples Demand Respect And Equal Treatment

Michigan Leaders React To Feds Recognition Of Marriages

MI Marriage: Schuette Asks For Full Appeals Court Review

The Stay Delayed Allows 315 Couples To Wed In State

Gay Marriage Defines Schuette's Reelection Campaign

Snyder Says Schuette Going Against Trend

Sixth Circuit Continues Stay

Michigan Marriage Ban Struck Down

Michigan Makes History With First Marriages

Elected Officials, Advocates Petition Schuette To Drop Marriage Aappeal

Pictures from Ingham County - Getting Married

Pictures from Oakland County Clerk's Office - Part 1

Pictures from the Oakland County Clerk's office - Part 2

Pictures from the Oakland County Clerk's Office - Part 3

Pictures from Washtenaw County

White Nationalist Group Files Brief Supporting AG's Appeal In Marriage Ruling

Discredited Witness Part Of Right-Wing Cabal

Schauer Celebrates Overturn Of Michigan Marriage Ban

Equality Michigan Circulating Petition to Drop Appeal

Why Are Governor Rick Snyder and Attorney General Bill Schuette Wasting Michigan Taxpayer Dollars On A Costly Appeal?

Michigan Marriage Ban Co-Author Goes 'Moral'

BTL's Wedding Expo: Like Pride in April

Snyder Says Marriages Invalid

Elected Officials, Advocates Petition Schuette To Drop Marriage Appeal

Request To Remove Stay Based On Process And Substance

Schuette Lies To Satisfy Political Base

DOCUMENTS: The decision, the stay, and more

BREAKING: Holder Asked To Recognize Michigan Marriages

Michigan Marriage Ban Ruled Unconstitutional

BREAKING: Sixth Circuit Court Of Appeals Issues Temporary Stay On Michigan Case

BREAKING: Same-Sex Couples Across Michigan Get Hitched

BREAKING: Judge Friedman Declares Michigan's Same-Sex Marriage Ban Unconstitutional

Judge Could Rule Late Today In Mich. Marriage Ban

Michigan Marriage Trial: And Now We Wait

Editor's Viewpoint: Our Long Journey To Justice

Federal Marriage Case Decisions Outside Michigan In Circuit Court of Appeals

Peers Distance Themselves As Regnerus Takes The Stand

Marriage Supporters, Protestors Brave Cold At Courthouse

Highlights From Michigan Same-Sex Marriage Hearing

Brown Says Schuette Instructed Clerks To Defy Court

Michigan Marriage Equality Trial Begins Second Week

Marriage Equality Trial Opens : Science v. Fear

Michigan Marriage Center Prepares State For The Possibility!

Michigan Marriage Case Begins

A Trial Full of Experts: Incredible and Not So Credible, In Hazel Park Case

like us on facebook follow us on twitter follow us on google+