Thursday, May 27, 2010

A couple of studies concerning AIDS

If you haven't seen the documentary "The Lazarus Effect" please do so. It shows the effect that Anti-Retroviral drugs can have on those who are HIV-positive. The film shows skinny, weak, sickly people, then returns a couple of months later to show the same people stronger, healthier and with a lot more weight. The film is available on YouTube, we linked to it on this prior post.

One of the heartbreaking aspects of the film is the stats that show that many who are HIV-positive will never receive the drugs. A couple of studies released today emphasize the impact that ARV drugs have. One shows the benefits, another shows how many will lose those benefits due to funding cut backs.

First on the cutbacks, Medecins Sans Frontieres says that funding cutbacks can undermine the progress made and kill many people. This summary of the report comes from the National Post and Reuters writer Kate Kelland.

Major donors include the United States, the World Bank, the health funding agency UNITAID, and backers of the Global Fund.

"How can we give up the fight halfway and pretend that the crisis is over?" said Mit Philips, a health policy analyst for MSF and one of the authors of the report.

"There is a real risk that many ... will die within the next few years if necessary steps are not taken now."

An estimated 33 million people around the world are infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) that causes AIDS, and more than half of the 9.5 million people who need AIDS drugs cannot get them, according to the United Nations.

The MSF report said that the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS relief, known as PEPFAR, cut its budget for buying AIDS drugs in 2009 and 2010 and froze its overall HIV/AIDS budget.

The Global Fund, the largest funding body in the fight against HIV/AIDS, is also facing shortfalls. The United States, the Netherlands, Ireland and Germany have said all they will be cutting their contributions.

Read more:

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have released a study that shows that ARV drugs can help stop transmission of HIV between sexual partners. This unpacking of the study comes from Bloomberg Business Week and writer Simeon Bennett.

Only one of the 349 infected heterosexual patients who started treatment passed the virus to someone else, an international team of researchers wrote today in the journal Lancet. That corresponds to a transmission rate of 0.37 infections in every 100 patients per year among those who started therapy, compared with a rate of 2.24 infections among those who didn’t. A study of the effect of HIV drugs on transmission over a longer time period is under way, they said.

Today’s research, which was also funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health, supports a study that suggested the spread of HIV in hard-hit African nations could be cut by 95 percent in a decade if all those infected started taking medicines immediately. That so-called test-and-treat theory has been disputed in other mathematical models that say those projections are based on flawed on assumptions.

1 comment:

Matt Davies said...

Unfortunately global and national budget cuts consistently disproportionately affect the world's poorest (and not just in the global south - pension cuts in Greece, child benefit cuts in Ireland and we await decision in the UK).