HIV/AIDS Advocates, NGOs, Physicians Urge Indian Prime Minister Singh To Participate in UNITAID
Physicians, HIV-positive people and nongovernmental organizations in India recently sent a memo to Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh that called on him to ensure India's participation in the international drug purchasing facility UNITAID, IANS/Indiainteracts.com reports (Raman, IANS/Indiainteracts.com, 10/3).
UNITAID was formed in September 2006 by France and 19 other nations that have set aside a portion of their airline tax revenues for programs in developing countries. At least 34 countries have signed up as donors to UNITAID. The $300 million fund aims to provide antiretroviral drugs to an additional 100,000 HIV-positive children worldwide this year, as well as to increase access to drugs for other diseases (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 7/20).
Celina D'Costa of the Indian Network for People Living With HIV/AIDS said that if each airline ticket sold in India could contribute 100 rupees, or about $2.50, "that gives the measure of the kind of money that can be generated to support" development of second-line antiretroviral drugs and second-line drugs for other diseases, such as tuberculosis and malaria.
India aims to achieve universal access to antiretrovirals by 2012; about 700,000 people in the country currently are in need of antiretrovirals but do not have access to the drugs. According to some HIV/AIDS advocates, India does not have the funds in place to support HIV prevention and universal access programs. Stanzin Dawa of the International AIDS Alliance in India asked, "Of what use will ... first-line [antiretrovirals] be if India cannot manage to start [a] second-line" antiretroviral program? (IANS/Indiainteracts.com, 10/3).