Activist Groups' Plea to Indian Prime Minister: 'Rollout Second-Line AIDS Treatment!'

Tuesday, November 13, 2007 General News
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NACO Centers Report 100,000 Patients on First-line ART; Advocates Press for Second-line Access

NEW DELHI, India, Nov. 13 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The following is being issued by AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF):

As part of its ongoing global campaign to improve access to lifesaving AIDS treatments worldwide, AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), which operates free AIDS treatment clinics in India as AHF/India Cares, and a broad-based coalition of other international and Indian civil society partners and HIV/AIDS organizations including Indian Medical Parliamentarians Forum (IMPF), World Vision, Student Global AIDS Campaign (SGAC), Amnesty International, Positive Lives Foundation - Goa (PLF), Manipur Network of Positive People, Swami Vivekananda Youth Movement (SVYM), Naz Foundation International - India, as well as other groups have joined together in a public appeal to the Honorable Dr. Manmohan Singh, India's Prime Minister, urging him to intercede and help facilitate the rollout of lifesaving second-line antiretroviral AIDS treatments in India. The appeal was delivered in a formal letter of request sent directly to the Prime Minister in New Delhi this week; the appeal will also be shared with Indian civil society in a print advertisement scheduled to run in major Indian newspapers including The Hindu (New Delhi) and the Financial Express (Mumbai), appearing in the Thursday November 15, 2007 editions of the newspapers.

The coalition also hosted a press conference to unveil the newspaper advertisement calling for second-line AIDS treatment on Tuesday, November 13 at The Claridges Hotel, New Delhi. The newspaper advertisement, designed in the style of a letter and headlined, "An Open Appeal to Dr. Manmohan Singh" includes the following points and pleas from the group's letter to the Prime Minister:

-- "This is an open appeal to your good office to address the urgent need to rollout second-line anti-retroviral drugs in India. We, the undersigned members of civil society groups take this opportunity to bring to your kind attention the crisis faced by people living with HIVAIDS (PLHA) and request you for a time bound action to save valuable lives."

-- "We request your leadership to safeguard the interest and protect the constitutional right to life of the people living with HIVAIDS."

-- "National AIDS Control Organization (NACO) has provided free first-line anti-retroviral drugs in a number of sites to people who are in need and who otherwise could not have accessed anti-retroviral medicines. However, there is an urgent need for expanded treatment services including second-line anti-retroviral drugs and a vibrant public health action plan."

-- "We appeal to you for your immediate intervention and come to the rescue of thousands of HIVAIDS infected children, women and men who are facing imminent death due to unavailability of the life saving second-line drugs."

As AIDS treatment access has increased in India, Africa and elsewhere in the developing world, the need for access to more effective -- and currently more costly -- second-line AIDS drug therapies has increased dramatically. And as an increasing number of patients are developing resistance to their initial AIDS drug regimens, the need to switch to more clinically appropriate treatment regimens has become a critical priority. India's media recently reported that NACO-provided first-line treatment is failing up to 50% of HIV/AIDS patients in Delhi, and the number in need of second-line treatment is increasing daily, making access to second-line treatment a necessity, not a luxury. Second-line therapies primarily include the class of drugs known as protease inhibitors. And in India, there is also a compelling need for newer, more effective, once-a-day first-line drugs that result in better adherence and less

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