We have come a long way towards treatment scale-up. Let the international community act as a real community for once – through concerted action from both private and public sectors, political conviction, and measures that work.
Fogue Foguito, HIV activist in Cameroon.
On the occasion of AFRAVIH , a Francophone international AIDS conference taking place in Geneva last week, UNITAID called on the international community to implement three urgent measures to keep pushing for progress against AIDS.
Three simple measures
- Fight free trade agreements – such as the one being currently negotiated between India and the European Union – which include clauses that strengthen patent protection beyond the TRIPS Agreement. India has provided about 80% of the developing world's AIDS medicines in the last ten years and it needs to continue to do so to ensure scale-up of quality affordable treatment. Equally, other countries need to use full TRIPS flexibilities to provide effective medicines to their populations.
- Push for innovative sources of funding. UNITAID has raised US$ 1.3 billion – two thirds of its revenue in five years – through an air ticket levy applied in a handful of countries. UNITAID is advocating for other governments to follow suit and also consider implementing a financial transaction tax.
- Optimise and simplify treatment. Manufacturers need to be given incentives to develop the right formulations of antiretrovirals and produce them at the needed scale and affordable prices. That incentive requires financial commitment. Assured, long-term funding gives buyers of medicines the leverage to negotiate not only prices but also the quality and formulation of products. Using this market approach, UNITAID created the market for paediatric AIDS medicines and successfully introduced sophisticated second-line treatments into developing countries.
All scientific advances made and all the great ideas discussed at AFRAVIH will need full funding to have tangible impact on the people living with HIV. This is the lynchpin that will turn good intentions into reality.