Brazil Shares AIDS-Fight Blueprint
August 12, 2002
Leaders from Portuguese-speaking countries recently signed on to a program to share in the know-how that has cut Brazil's AIDS-related deaths by more than half over the past eight years. This deal follows an initiative announced last month at the Barcelona AIDS conference by Paulo Teixeira, the director of Brazil's STD/AIDS program, in which Brazil will pledge $1 million -- ten proposed pilot projects worth $100,000 each -- to stimulate governments to take a proactive role against AIDS.
In Brazil, those with HIV have free access to a cocktail of antiretroviral drugs: 115,000 people currently receive the cocktail free because of a controversial law allowing the government to produce generic copies of imported drugs in a national emergency. In 1995, the World Bank predicted 1.2 million AIDS cases in Brazil in five years, but the number today is less than half that, Teixeira said. The mortality rate has fallen by 50 percent, and the number of people treated for opportunistic infections has tumbled by 80 percent. Patient survival time has risen from six months to nearly five years.
Brazil has already received 20 formal requests for help, almost all of them from African and Caribbean countries, and expects to choose ten later this year. While Brazil's success attracted praise from world leaders and international organizations, some activists say Brazil should offer more immediate assistance for its most desperate neighbors. Echoing other Latin American AIDS activists, Executive Director Renate Koch of the Venezuela non-governmental organization Citizens Action Against AIDS called on Brazil to sell its generics at cost or donate supplies to Latin American nations worst hit by the disease.
Last year, Brazil gave some $50,000 worth of antiretrovirals to a Doctors Without Borders project in a South African slum. The experiment, which treated 100 patients, was a success. The average weight of each patient increased 22 pounds in just six months and the rate of opportunistic infections dropped 72 percent.
Christian Science Monitor
08.08.02; Andrew Downie
This article was provided by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update. Visit the CDC's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.