Mexico Should Declare HIV/AIDS a National Emergency To Ensure Universal Access to Antiretrovirals, Coalition Says
The Mexican government should declare HIV/AIDS a national emergency to ensure "universal, permanent and sustainable" access to antiretroviral drugs, a coalition of about 60 nongovernmental organizations said Tuesday, EFE News Service reports. According to the coalition, antiretrovirals cost up to 30 times more in Mexico than in other countries with comparable per capita incomes.
In a letter to Health Secretary Jose Angel Villalobos, the coalition criticized the high price of antiretrovirals "set by the pharmaceutical industry." It added that declaring HIV/AIDS a national emergency would make it possible to "save the lives of nearly 180,000 Mexicans." It also would permit the government to "gain access to the mechanisms established by the World Trade Organization for obtaining better prices," as well as allowing for the purchase and importation of generic antiretrovirals, according to the coalition. In addition, the coalition said it is necessary to rescind a law that requires a manufacturing or pharmaceutical license to import and register medicines in Mexico. The law "limits our access to many options for importing generic medicines," the coalition said.
According to the National AIDS Prevention and Control Center, between 8,000 and 8,500 new cases of HIV/AIDS are diagnosed annually in Mexico, and about 50,000 of the country's more than 108 million residents are currently receiving treatment for HIV/AIDS. The country in August will host the XVII International AIDS Conference in Mexico City, which will provide a "unique opportunity to show the world and the international community the advances made by Mexico in reducing the prices of medications," the letter said. The letter's signatories include the Mexican Sex Workers Network, the National Human Rights Commission, the health secretariat in the state of Jalisco, the AIDS Healthcare Foundation and writer Carlos Monsivais (EFE News Service, 6/17).
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