Brazil attaches high priority to the implementation of the United Nations Declaration of Commitment on HIV-AIDS, adopted by consensus in 2001. HIV-AIDS claimed more than 3 million lives worldwide in 2003, and is clearly one of the greatest challenges of our time. For there to be any real hope of success in combatting it, we must acknowledge that prevention and treatment are mutually reinforcing elements of an effective response.
Brazil strongly believes that prevention and treatment must be given equal emphasis. It is essential to implement effective prevention measures in order to protect non-infected persons from contracting HIV, while the 42 million people worldwide already living with HIV-AIDS need treatment and support. We are deeply concerned that of an estimated 5.5 million people in low and middle-income countries are in need of antiretroviral therapy (ART), only around 400,000 are receiving it.
We welcome the Doha Declaration on TRIPS and public health, and the WTO's decision of 30 August 2003 which allows developing countries that cannot produce cheap generic drugs to import them from elsewhere. This agreement must now be implemented in order to improve access to effective, low-cost drugs and related pharmaceutical products.
Brazil produces some ART generic drugs but does not export them. In January 2004 the Ministry of Health succeeded in negotiating price reductions with the foreign laboratories producing the ART drugs imported by Brazil, thus enabling an additional 20 thousand patients to be treated at relatively low cost.
The Brazilian experience shows that providing free and universal access to medication, including ART, is an extremely effective response. Since 1996 Brazil has seen AIDS-related mortality slashed by 50%. Hospital admissions have dropped 75%. Opportunistic illnesses have been drastically reduced. The number of Brazilians living with HIV-AIDS in 2003 - 1 million - was only 50% of the figure predicted by the World Bank ten years earlier.
These positive results are based not only on the determined and coherent approach to prevention and treatment, but also on human rights advocacy. The government has reaffirmed that all forms of discrimination against people living with or at risk of HIV-AIDS, including discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation, must be eliminated. It also believes that in the context of a pandemic such as HIV-AIDS, access to life-saving medicines should be considered a human right.
In 2001 the Brazilian Ministry of Health received the UNESCO 'Human Rights, Culture and Peace' award for its approach to HIV-AIDS as a human rights issue. Recent UNAIDS (United Nations Programme for HIV-AIDS) reports have cited Brazil as the country with the best model for fighting HIV-AIDS in developing countries.
In fighting HIV-AIDS internationally, Brazil has co-operation agreements with nine African and five Latin-American and Caribbean countries. It offers these countries treatment for patients and technical training for health professionals.
In the United Nations General Assembly and the United Nations Commission on Human Rights (UNCHR), Brazilian initiatives on access to medication in the context of pandemics such as HIV-AIDS have attracted a large number of co-sponsors and been decisively adopted.
|NATIONAL HIV-AIDS PROGRAMME
Website of the National HIV-AIDS programme of the Brazilian Ministry of Health. [pt]