Gaps Arise for Thais in AIDS Drug Access Program
October 3, 2006
Since launching the region's most extensive public antiretroviral (ARV) treatment program last October, Thailand has earned international praise and is now treating 80,000 citizens with HIV/AIDS. Under the national health care system, Thais pay 80 US cents for government-subsidized ARVs. But the quickly extended program is already facing challenges, say health experts.
Thailand has halved the number of new HIV infections during the last decade; however, 580,000 Thais have the disease.
There are gaps in coverage for drug users, prisoners, illegal migrant workers and ethnic minorities without access to the public health system, said Paul Cawthorne, Doctors Without Borders' (DWB) Thailand representative. Nurses and doctors are already feeling the pressure of treating more patients, he added.
DWB is training peer counselors to help Thais adhere to ARV treatment regimens. GPO-vir, a generic triple combination pill made by a state pharmaceutical firm, costs $32 a month. If a patient develops drug-resistant HIV, a second-line regimen would cost more than $589 a month; this is not covered under the public program.
The government is now piloting a second-line drug program for just 1,600 patients. Under World Trade Organization rules, Thailand could issue compulsory licenses for second-line drugs still under patent if it declared a national health emergency. That would require "high-level political resolve," states a World Bank study.
Washington Post 10.01.2006, Darren Schuettler, Reuters
United Kingdom: "Virological and Immunological Outcomes at 3 Years After Starting Antiretroviral Therapy with Regimens Containing Non-Nucleoside Reverse Transcriptase Inhibitor, Protease Inhibitor, or Both in INITIO: Open-Label Randomized Trial"
It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.