India is top AIDS drug supplier, but its own poor can’t afford it
Second-line treatment costs `4 – 6K per month. Yet, only a handful of patients are ‘eligible’ to get it for free.
Even as India emerges as the leading supplier of AIDS medicines globally, patients in the country can barely afford their monthly treatments. India supplied over 80% of all AIDS medicines between 2002 and 2008 to four million people across African countries such as Congo, Mozambique, Tanzania, Kenya and Nigeria, and developing countries in South America, a recent study
by the Journal of International AIDS Society revealed.
“”But several Indians themselves are unable to consume them as the government policies to avail free treatment are unwelcoming,”” says Loon Gangte, president of Delhi Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS. The government has been providing free primary or first-line AIDS medicines since 2004, long after AIDS was first detected in the 1980s. However, several AIDS patients have developed resistance to first-line medicines, and require second-line medicines, which are beyond their reach. “The government is obliged to provide free treatment to all HIV/AIDS patients. It started providing free second-line treatment from 2008, but it has laid down unfriendly criteria to avail it.”