US moves toward universal access to HIV/AIDS treatment

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The United States has just taken an important decision in the fight against HIV/AIDS. The American National Institute of Health has officially agreed to share certain of its patents with the Patents Pool for HIV medicines. The purpose of this organization, established in July 2008 by UNITAID (an international body founded in 2006 to facilitate the purchase of medicines), is to scale up access to treatment for HIV/AIDS in developing countries.

The agreement in question concerns certain patents for darunavir, an antiretroviral belonging to a class of drugs known as protease inhibitors. This drug has the advantage of being effective in cases where there is resistance to certain older treatments. Although significant, this agreement is not enough for the HIV Patents Pool to offer general access to the drug. UNAIDS, the United Nations HIV/AIDS program, is nevertheless delighted by this new development.

The French AIDES association believes that this agreement constitutes “an important precedent in support of this initiative launched by UNITAID” – an initiative that is heading in the right direction, particularly when it comes to fighting an epidemic on the scale of HIV/AIDS.

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