By Andrew Goyvaerts
The race commenced more than three decades ago, at times we have been close only to experience a setback but in the last 12 – 18 months a cure appears to be closer as scientists look at various ways to flush out HIV reservoirs in order to eliminate the virus completely, however, the biggest obstacle in the search for a cure may not be finding one but in it being made available or, accessible to all because the ongoing saga with PrEP demonstrates how scientist finding a cure and authorities making it available are two very different things.
It wasn’t long ago society dreamed of a preventative treatment for HIV, if someone had told me during this time that when it was developed our health authorities would then allow this epidemic to continue by refusing its approval, the idea would have been implausible to me and imagine I would have used the term “conspiracy theorist” to describe that person, yet here we are.
The damning of NHS Directors who made this decision is justified but there is one industry that could help this situation, who’s uncompassionate behaviour receives less attention from society and even less from the media, that is the pharmaceutical industry who set these ridiculous, opportunistic prices. Concern about drug prices is not just a problem for HIV treatment, recent scandals regarding the price of Hep C drug Sovaldi, as well as treatment for certain forms of cancer, have disgusted ordinary citizens and no doubt pleased shareholders in equal measure however, as the budget for our health service plummets due to austerity and we now face further financial instability due to Brexit, the sustainability of treatment on the NHS has to be protected.
One way you can help is to stand behind organisations like Stop AIDS who recently delivered a petition for a campaign they have been conducting called “Missing Medicines”, signed by 6,000 people to the House of Commons. This very important campaign aims to address the format used by pharmaceutical companies to develop treatment which is currently based on profit instead of health need, if successful this would address the lack of treatment for conditions like TB along with helping reduce drug prices and ensure the availability of future treatment on the NHS. You can follow the progress of this campaign on their website http://stopaids.org.uk/our-actions/missing-medicines/ or by following their twitter account @Youth_StopAIDS .