Accessibility and non-accessibility to antiretroviral therapies are among the reasons for the dramatic differences in the trend of the between the North and the South of the world, which bend and determine the frightening imbalance of deaths and infections.
Introduced in 1995, but spread mainly from the following year, the antiretroviral cocktail is the therapy that combines two or more drugs against the retrovirus that has proved decisive in delaying the development of AIDS.
Composed of a variable cocktail of protease and reverse transcriptase inhibitors, it basically consists of associating drugs that act in concert by attacking the virus at different times of its reproductive cycle.
The use of these therapies has profoundly altered the incidence and mortality of AIDS, and although unfortunately they do not work for everyone and it is not yet known how long they are able to prolong life, it is certain that they lengthen and improve it. incredibly quality.
However, the treatment is complex and above all expensive. In countries like Italy, where the existence of a national health service guarantees access to therapy for everyone, anyone with HIV can follow it for free.
But already in the United States there are disparities between the different treatments provided by private insurance and publicly funded programs, demonstrating the difficulty of guaranteeing fair conditions even in wealthy Western nations.
In developing countries, the antiretroviral cocktail is literally unattainable for HIV-positive people. The average cost of the treatment (between 10 thousand and 20 thousand dollars per year, depending on the drugs) makes it inaccessible to the population and prohibitive for public services which, when they exist, often have difficulty even providing basic health care.
In Geneva, during the International Conference on AIDS, a group of industries producing some of the most widespread antiretrovirals will present an experimental program for the distribution of drugs at greatly reduced prices in Uganda and Ivory Coast, agreed with the World Organization of Healthcare and other international institutions.
The initiative, however, is destined to cause much discussion because, according to many, it does not help at all to solve the problem. Meanwhile, the discounts, although substantial (we are talking about 60 percent less), are not even remotely enough to allow the purchase of drugs by the vast majority of HIV-positive people.
The impact of the program would therefore be very limited, and there are those who point out that pharmaceutical companies, rather than for humanitarian reasons, could be driven by the desire to open up new markets.
And with highly unbalanced trade rules: selling in the Third World in the middle raises the suspicion that the price imposed on the “first” is inflated, as well as paving the way for the black market. According to observers, the initiative is bound to spark violent discussions in Geneva.
The director of Unaids, Peter Piot, also points out that the problem of access to drugs does not only concern the antiviral cocktail, but also the medicines for pneumonia, diarrhea and all other opportunistic diseases related to AIDS, cures that, if they were available to all, “they would allow the sick to live better and more dignified.” (so-called)