New advances for HIV treatment and prevention

Photo: Liz Winfrey Ventura

Amid recent concerns over trade agreements preventing the manufacture of cheap pharmaceuticals in India, two announcements this week bring hope to HIV/AIDS patients in the developing world.

The Medicines Patent Pool, a project designed for drug makers to allow low-income countries to make low-cost generic versions of HIV medicines, has had its first major pharmaceutical company join—Gilead Sciences. While the pool excludes several middle-income countries, it is still a landmark step for the treatment of HIV and AIDS for those unable to afford expensive medicines. Out of an estimated 9 million people in need of treatment in low-income countries, approximately 6.6 million currently have access to treatment. For more information, see AlertNet’s article on the agreement

Further, two new African studies released this week reveal that a daily dose of AIDS drugs among vulnerable populations can cut the transmission of HIV by more than half. The new study centered on people in Africa who are most at risk, heterosexual men and women. Previous research has focused on more marginalized groups—women, male homosexuals and people whose regular sex partners are HIV-positive. The new studies were conducted in Kenya, Uganda and Botswana. For more information on the study, see the article in The Washington Post.