Wednesday, May 31, 2006

India has most people with HIV

A UNAids report has revealed that India has the most people infected with HIV and it accounts for two-thirds of HIV cases in Asia.
An estimated 5.7 million Indians were infected by the end of 2005, overtaking the 5.5 million cases estimated in South Africa.

The UN agency estimates that only 7% of Indians who needed antiretroviral drug therapy actually received it last year.

In addition, only 1.6% of pregnant women who needed treatment to prevent mother-to-child HIV transmission were receiving it.

Simultaneously, there is the other question of patent laws. The Indian Parliament, to fulfil India's commitment to the World Trade Organisation's intellectual property regime, has passed a bill that makes copying of generic drugs illegal. The HIV drugs manufactured in India are an order of magnitude cheaper than those by MNCs. Should a certain category or a subset of drugs be exempt from such laws to prevent monopoly and provide cheaper options to patients?
"Patients over Patents" and "People over Profit" or vice-versa?

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