China to Provide Anti-AIDS Drugs to HIV-Positive People in Henan Province
China is expected to begin supplying free HIV/AIDS treatments to "thousands" of villagers in Henan province, where unsafe blood collection practices in the mid-1990s spread HIV, the Wall Street Journal reports (Oyama, Wall Street Journal, 10/18). The central government and the government of Henan together expect to spend at least $4 million on the drug plan, which will include the distribution of both Chinese-made generic drugs and patented drugs made by multinational drug companies, according to a person familiar with the government's plan. Currently only about 100 Chinese people use combination antiretroviral therapy, which can cost as much as $4,000 per patient per year and is "out of reach" for most individuals in China. The drug distribution plan represents the nation's "first significant AIDS program after two years of expressions of concern but little action," according to the Asian Wall Street Journal. However, the plan focuses only on "poor farmers" and not on the growing number of HIV-positive injection drug users and sex workers. The government has applied for a $96 million grant from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria to sponsor HIV/AIDS prevention, education and treatment of people in the "worst hit" areas of the central provinces where illegal blood collection practices were "most rampant" (Chang, Asian Wall Street Journal, 10/18).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.