Several Countries Increase Access to Antiretrovirals (ARV)
Two developments will dramatically increase the availability of treatment in China.
Chinese Vice Minister of Health, Gao Qiang, announced this fall that the government began offering free ARV therapy in April to patients in areas hard hit by AIDS (The Washington Post, 11/11/03). Minister Gao said that 5,000 people living with HIV/AIDS would receive the treatment in 2003 and that all those who cannot afford it will be provided treatment next year (Xinhua General News Service, 11/7/03).
Helping achieve that goal, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria awarded China a $95 million grant for prevention and control of HIV, the largest grant the country has ever received to fight AIDS (Agence France-Presse, 11/14/03).
But funding still falls short of what is needed, according to a report issued on December 1, 2003, by the Chinese Ministry of Health and the UN Theme Group on HIV/AIDS in China (Xinhua General News Service, 12/1/03).
On World AIDS Day, the Thai government promised to have 70,000 HIV/AIDS patients on ARV in 2004, a three-fold increase over 2003. The therapy will be paid for by two separate government funds as well as a recent grant from the Global Fund.
To reach the goal, the Ministry of Health needs to increase training for medical professionals, said Dr. Praphan Phanuphak, director of the Thai Red Cross AIDS Research Centre and a principal investigator for TREAT Asia. Dr. Sombat Thanprasertsuk, Director of the Bureau of AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, said the number of laboratories necessary for the program would be doubled nationwide and that all of Thailand’s 800 hospitals were expected to participate in the coming year (The Nation, 12/2/03).
Indian officials presented plans to provide free ARV therapy by April 2004 to all HIV-positive new parents and children under 15 in the states with the highest HIV prevalence. However, treating the 100,000 patients planned in the first year depends upon final price reduction agreements with pharmaceutical companies and securing additional funding. Some of the money could come from a $100 million grant from the Global Fund, though a final grant agreement has not been signed (The New York Times, 12/1/03).
An official from the World Health Organization (WHO) announced on December 1, 2003, that the WHO aims to have 4,000 HIV-positive Nepalese on ARV therapy as part of the organization’s goal to put 3 million people on the therapy by the end of 2005. Dr. Klaus Wagner said that the Nepalese government must create a plan but that the WHO would help the country develop guidelines for a procurement system. Currently 8,500 Nepalese are in need of ARV therapy, and only 250 are receiving it (Himalayan News Service, 12/203).
Treatment Arrives in Laos
In October, a young woman named Kinoy became the first Laotian living with HIV/AIDS to be treated with ARV therapy. Médecins Sans Frontières, which helped Kinoy get the medication, celebrated the achievement in a ceremony with other HIV/AIDS organizations (Inter Press Service, 10/31/03).
China to Build First Dedicated AIDS Treatment Center
Twenty-eight miles outside of Kunming, China will build an institute for HIV/AIDS, according to the AIDS prevention and control office of Yunnan Province. The province is home to one of China’s concentrated epidemics. The center will provide ARV treatment, psychological counseling, prevention education, and clinical research (Xinhua General News Service, 12/11/03).