Equitable Health Care Access for HIV-Positive People Must be ‘Priority,’ Conference Attendees State
Access to "proper" health care infrastructure and life-extending AIDS drugs needs to be a "priority" for those living with HIV/AIDS in the Caribbean, attendees of the 10th International Conference for People Living With AIDS in Trinidad were told on Monday, the Associated Press reports. AIDS advocates staged a protest outside the Community Action Resource Center, an AIDS clinic in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad's capital, to emphasize the poor clinic conditions and call attention to the need for more resources. "The staff has protested so we can get access to proper health care," Catherine Williams, activities coordinator for the center, told the conference's 600 delegates, who discussed ways to increase treatment access in the region, where about 500,000 people are infected with HIV. There is partial access to treatment in Latin America "due to community pressure and mobilization," Javier Hourcade Bellocq, coordinator of the Global Network of People Living With HIV/AIDS, said. However, widespread treatment is not available. Merck announced earlier this year that it would offer discounts of up to 85% on its two AIDS drugs Stocrin and Crixivan in the "poorest and hardest hit" developing countries, including eight Caribbean nations, but the discounted prices, which range from $1,000 to $2,000 a year, are still prohibitive for many patients. "Medicines are still expensive. We've started the long journey to access to treatment, but there's still a big gap," Williams said (Potter, Associated Press, 10/29).This is part of the Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.