Latin America and the Caribbean unite against AIDS

The nations have agreed to collaborate on drug production and procurement Copyright: WHO/P.Viriot

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[RIO DE JANEIRO] Latin America and Caribbean nations have agreed to act together to increase the availability of HIV/AIDS drugs in the region.

They will jointly negotiate cheaper imports of HIV/AIDS drugs, and will share information and costs to produce their own.

The 19 countries made the agreement last week at a three-day meeting on HIV/AIDS prevention in Brasilia, Brazil.

It was followed by the announcement yesterday (18 January) that Argentina and Brazil will produce HIV/AIDS drugs together at a US$10 million factory they are building this year.

Pedro Chequer, director of Brazil’s national HIV/AIDS programme, told delegates in Brasilia that it was important for nations to work together to improve local capacity for drug production, because temporary price reductions are unsustainable in medium and long-term.

The meeting’s final report, to be presented at the UN general assembly in May, will recommend creating ways to measure access to AIDS prevention, assistance and treatment in the region.

It will also call on the international community to help overcome political and economic barriers in negotiations over the costs of HIV/AIDS drugs.

Last year, Brazil obtained lower prices for several foreign companies’ HIV/AIDS drugs by threatening to break patents on them and produce them in Brazil.

“It is fundamental for the countries to unite and to count on international agencies for support,” said Chequer.