The UN has said the world can end the AIDS epidemic within 15 years, but senior officials said that would only be possible by breaking the pharmaceutical industries "tight grip" on government policies.
"During the first decade of the epidemic, there was very little to offer someone dying from AIDS," Michel Sidibe, executive director of UNAIDS, said in the report. The key to change, he said, was breaking the pharmaceutical industry's "tight grip" on government policies and drug prices.
Some 15 million people are receiving antiretroviral treatment for HIV/AIDS, a staggering increase from less than 700,000 in 2000. At that time, patients had to take an average of eight pills per day, costing $10,000 a year. Today, medicines can be bought for $100 a year. These medicines keep the virus from growing and multiplying helping people to live longer and reducing the chances that they will transmit HIV to others.
Legislation allowing developing countries to override patent rights was critical, allowing them to manufacture copies of the drugs and cut prices.
AIDS-related deaths have dropped more than 40 percent since 2004 to 1.2 million a year, the report said, adding new HIV infections have fallen by 35 percent since 2001 to 2 million a year in 2014. One of the biggest successes has been reducing new infections among children by 58 percent between 2000 and 2014, the agency said. This has been achieved by ensuring women with HIV receive medicine to prevent them from passing on the infection when they give birth. Last month, Cuba became the first country in the world to eliminate mother-to-child transmission of HIV.
So here we have the UN acknowledging that millions of people died needlessly in the past because of the pharmaceutical industry’s desire to protect their profits. Similar problems still exist today. The poor are not able to access expensive anti-cancer medications is one example.