Christian Science Monitor Examines Brazil’s Plan to Share HIV/AIDS Knowledge With Other Portuguese-Speaking Nations
The Christian Science Monitor today profiles Brazil's plan to share its knowledge of HIV/AIDS programs and funding with other Portuguese-speaking nations (Downie, Christian Science Monitor, 8/8). The group, known as the Community of Portuguese-Language Countries, will seek $30 million from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria to facilitate the exchange of pharmaceutical technology, treatment advice and prevention campaign strategies from Brazil to its members, including Portugal, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bisseau, Sao Tome and Principe, Mozambique, Angola and East Timor (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 8/2). Brazil's national HIV/AIDS strategy provides antiretroviral drugs free of charge to all HIV-positive individuals. The free provision of the drugs is made possible by a "controversial" Brazilian law that allows the government to produce generic copies of patented AIDS drugs. Officials say that Brazil spends approximately $2,100 per patient per year on AIDS drugs, less than one-fifth of the cost of a year's worth of treatment in the United States. Providing the drugs has also saved the Brazilian government approximately $1.1 billion in hospital and other related health costs since the program's inception in 1997.
Activists Want Greater Action
Some AIDS activists, however, say that Brazil should be doing more for neighboring countries in South America and the Caribbean. "As the leader in the fight against AIDS in the region, Brazil should make major and more efforts. Specifically, Brazil should assist those countries in the region that are making efforts but do not find ways to start, be it for lack of political will or economic problems," Renate Koch, executive director of the Venezuelan non-governmental organization Citizens Action Against AIDS, said. Koch said that Brazil should either sell its generic AIDS drugs at cost or donate supplies to the Latin American nations hardest hit by the disease. Dr. Paulo Teixeira, head of Brazil's program on HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases, said that under a separate program, Brazil planned to pledge $1 million in assistance to other countries to help them treat people with HIV/AIDS. But he stated that Brazil "can't continue to pursue such approaches in the long term," because doubling Brazil's production of the medicines would "drai[n]" the country's resources while supplying drugs for only a "handful" of the world's HIV-positive population. He said that the main objective of Brazil's plan to share its knowledge with other nations is to give those countries "first-hand evidence they can use when seeking funding" for future HIV/AIDS programs. "It is much more concrete going to a donor and saying we have a project here in our country that gave us these results, and I now want the funding to increase it and develop it," Teixeira said (Christian Science Monitor, 8/8).