The magical medicines
Today, the medicines available for people living with HIV are incredible. Antiretroviral drugs or ARVs are the most common type of treatment for HIV, although they cannot cure the virus it can prevent illness for many years and allow people to live relatively normal and healthy lives. Between 1995 and 2009 around 14.4 million lives were saved thanks to ARV’s. Furthermore there is now new evidence which shows that ARV’s can also be used to prevent the spread of HIV.
So, why are people still dying?
Unfortunately, it’s not always easy for people living with HIV to access the medicines they need to survive and 9 million people still don’t have access to the medicines they need. There are a number of obstacles; in many developing countries those who live rurally may have to walk for miles and miles to the nearest clinic even though it is not certain that the drugs they need will be available. Clinics may often be severely understaffed as countries with a high HIV prevalence often have a lower staff to patient ratio. Stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS is also a massive problem as many do not wish to be seen visiting clinics due to the discrimination they will face.
Obviously, one of the biggest problems is the price of the medicines. When pharmaceutical companies create a new drug they receive long patents which mean there is no competitors and prices stay extremely high. Newly patented drugs are often over £5000 per person, per year, those in developing countries can’t afford such obscene costs.