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Brazil’s Universal Care for AIDS Patients at a Dead End

Rising costs for drugs is threatening Brazil’s ability to provide free AIDS medication to all patients needing it, according to a study that will be presented at the United Nations next week.

Experts say Brazil’s AIDS-treatment program, hailed as a model by the U.N., has reached a crossroads due to the increased funding needs.

"There are two choices: Either the government spends more on AIDS and less on other diseases, or the quality of the AIDS treatment suffers," said Alexandre Grangeiro, a former director of Brazil’s anti-AIDS program who helped develop the study.

The study will be presented at an Extraordinary Session of the U.N. General Assembly on HIV and AIDS from May 30 to June 2.

Brazil’s AIDS treatment program has been praised by the U.N. as an example for other developing countries fighting to control the deadly epidemic.

Thanks to the treatment program and aggressive prevention efforts, Brazil has largely managed to stabilize the epidemic. The death rate among men has fallen from 15.1 deaths per 100,000 in 1995 to 8.8 per 100,000 in 2004.

Between 1980 and 2004 171,923 Brazilians have died of AIDS.

But as the virus becomes more resistant and patients require newer drugs, the program also has become more expensive.

According to the study, the cost per patient jumped 50 percent between 2004 and 2005, from 4,000 reais (US$ 1,800) a year to 6,000 reais (US$ 2,700).

At the same time, costs for AIDS drugs all manufactured in the United States or Europe grew to nearly 1 billion reais (US$ 440 million), up from 700 million reais (US$ 311 million) the year before.

The Brazilian program was significantly cheaper in the 1990s, when the country produced generic versions of AIDS drugs patented before it signed its intellectual property law in 1996.

Since then, Brazil has occasionally threatened to break patents on grounds it faces a national health emergency, which is allowed under World Trade Organization rules. But so far, the government has reached agreements for big discounts from producers and has not broken a patent.

Now Brazil has no generic equivalents ready to use, and its threats to break patents have lost their punch, said Grangeiro, who is now the director of the Sao Paulo state Health Institute.

Mariângela Simões, the head of the government’s anti-AIDS program, said the government had made a decision to contain costs solely through negotiation.

"The government is committed to following the law that says it will provide anti-AIDS medicines to people who need them," Simões said. "Whether that affects treatment for other diseases is a question of the Health Ministry’s priorities."

Pravda – www.pravda.ru

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  • Show Comments (4)

  • awall mystro

    i hve an AIDS patience as a Family
    hello ,
    i really need ahelp on my aids family and i want to know how to take care of her.Please i need your help in anyway, if you have any inform

  • Guest

    Pravda ?
    This was published in the Russian paper Pravda… Let’s wait until next week to know a little bit more about this issue !

  • Guest

    Eduardo
    Great HIV/AIDS program Brazil,overall tax rate of infection 0.8 per 1ooo hab. same as the US and we cannot compare the economies or the health systems–we talking about saving human lives.

  • Guest

    ?????
    But if you gett big discounts on HIV drugs, and knowing that the costs of drugs is an important part of the treatment, how could your costs go higher ????

    Is money used for red tape, bureaucracy or corruption ?

    That would be the only explanation of rising costs !

    Again this is what you call the CUSTO BRAZIL !!!!

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