Within the last few years we have made great strides in the HIV medical field. Scientists have created very promising drugs that significantly reduce ones risk for contracting HIV. Last summer, researchers at the Center for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa (CAPRISA) publicly introduced 1%tenofovir gel, a topical gel that when applied before and after intercourse can reduce the chances of HIV transmission by 39% for high-risk South African women.
When my sister learned of this gel, her comment was, “Sure, but it ONLY reduces a womans chances of contracting HIV by 39%”! ONLY 39%?? South Africa currently exhibits the most extreme rates of transmission, and if there is a gel that can potentially prevent transmission for 2 out of every 5 women that are at high-risk for contracting HIV, I personally view this as a HUGE advance.
However, my next concern is: the gel can only help 2 out of every 5 women that USE it. With pharmaceutical companies notorious for seeking enormous profits on such drugs, what are the chances that tenofovir gel will be made readily available to women in South Africa, with minimal resources?
“More governments and pharmaceutical companies must join together to ensure the availability of antiretroviral therapy for HIV treatment and prevention at the lowest possible cost in all resource-poor countries” (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ward-cates/aids-research_b_878349.html). According to this article, six major pharmaceutical companies – Gilead Sciences, Abbott Laboratories, Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Bristol-Myers Squibb, GlaxoSmithKline and Merck – are finally collaborating to make antiretroviral drugs available! Gilead Sciences has also decided to release royalty-free licenses for tenofovir, which has allowed the South African government obtain a license so that local pharmaceutical companies can produce it at affordable costs.
“These win-win examples demonstrate that with effective partnerships, conviction and leadership, overcoming HIV is within our grasp.” (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ward-cates/aids-research_b_878349.html).
We are now, more than ever, proud of our partnership with Gilead Sciences.