Brazil pulls plug on HIV drugs in budget crisis

Keith Alcorn, Keith Alcorn
Published: 05 March 2001

The Brazilian Health Minister, Jose Serra, has told reporters that government funding of HIV treatment will cease in October due to public spending cuts imposed by an austerity programme, and the financial crisis which has hit tax revenues. The Brazilian government initiated the austerity programme following last year's international financial crisis, which saw the value of Brazil's currency, the real, collapse on the international markets.

Mr Serra says that the government cannot pay for anti-HIV drugs worth $110 million, despite a 1997 ruling that all Brazilian citizens diagnosed with HIV are entitled to free anti-retroviral treatment if they have CD4 counts below 500 and viral load above 30,000 copies ( and anyone with viral load greater than 100,000 copies). The financial crisis also threatens supplies of drugs used to treat malaria, tuberculosis and diabetes, as well as the import of clotting factor for haemophiliacs.

Jorge Beloqui of GIV, a Brazilian organisation for people with HIV, said AIDS deaths had fallen by 38% between 1996 and 1998, during which time anti-retroviral treatment was gradually becoming accessible to most people with HIV. Brazil is one of the few middle income countries to have reported a decline in AIDS deaths since 1996.

Beloqui urged organisations around the world to protest at the abuse of citizen's rights, by e-mailing Health Minister Jose Serra (pchequer@aids.gov.br) and Minister of the Economy Dr Pedro Malan (acs@fazenda.gov.br). Supporters are asked to copy e-mails to GIV (giv@mandic.com).

The Brazilian Ministry of Health maintains an extensive website on HIV and AIDS in Brazil at http://www.aids.gov.br, featuring statistics, treatment guidelines and a wealth of information about government initiatives to fight the epidemic. The site also includes links to websites maintained by many non-governmental organisations in Brazil.

Community Consensus Statement on Access to HIV Treatment and its Use for Prevention

Together, we can make it happen

We can end HIV soon if people have equal access to HIV drugs as treatment and as PrEP, and have free choice over whether to take them.

Launched today, the Community Consensus Statement is a basic set of principles aimed at making sure that happens.

The Community Consensus Statement is a joint initiative of AVAC, EATG, MSMGF, GNP+, HIV i-Base, the International HIV/AIDS Alliance, ITPC and NAM/aidsmap
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