Last week, the UN AIDS program once again praised Brazil’s AIDS program. However, also last week, the director of the São Paulo Public Health Institute (Instituto de Saúde Pública de São Paulo), Alexandre Grangeiro, said that the amount of money the program requires is putting its existence in danger.
In the late 1980s when the AIDS epidemic began, the Brazilian government made the decision to implant a program that would provide universal access to AIDS drugs for anyone who was HIV positive.
Grangeiro made his remarks in a Radio Nacional interview. According to Grangeiro, since the program began its results have been extremely positive.
Brazil managed to control an epidemic, stabilize the number of new cases, reduce mortality and the number of hospitalizations, while at the same time stopping the spread of the disease due to blood transfusions and the transmission from mother to child in childbirth.
But Grangeiro went on to say that it is getting harder to maintain, much less expand, those earlier successes mainly because of the high cost of new drugs to combat AIDS.
And while it is true that without the AIDS program the country would be spending much more on treatment and hospitalizations, the cost of the new drugs, which are imported, is overwhelming the program and even threatening other government healthcare programs.
At the moment, Brazil is spending around 1 billion reais (US$ 500 million) annually on AIDS drugs.
Grangeiro says one solution would be for Brazil to use its network of government-run laboratories to substitute name brand drugs with cheaper copy-cat, generic drugs.