Developing Countries: HIV Infection

International Development written question – answered on 13th March 2007.

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Photo of Andrew Smith Andrew Smith Labour, Oxford East

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what progress has been made in making the range of drugs relevant to HIV/AIDS available to people in the poorest countries; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Gareth Thomas Gareth Thomas The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for International Development, Party Chair, Co-operative Party

The international effort to achieve universal access has helped boost the numbers on anti-retroviral drugs (ARV) treatment. In sub-Saharan Africa, the numbers on treatment rose 10-fold from 2003 to 2006 from 100,000 to over 1 million. This is equivalent to 23 per cent. of those needing treatment. Similarly, the number of sites where people can receive treatment has increased significantly, including in Malawi and Zambia where there has been increases of 20 and 30-fold respectively. As of 1 December 2006, Global Fund-supported programmes have put 770,000 people on ARV treatment for HIV. This represents more than one-quarter of the 3 million people on ARV worldwide and is 28 per cent. greater than the Global Fund targets for 2006.

The UK has already pledged to spend £1.5 billion on AIDS programmes between 2005 and 2008: this reflects our commitment to Universal Access. Despite this progress, much still needs to be done. In addition to funding AIDS programmes, we are supporting UNITAID, the new international drug purchasing facility, to fund second-line ARV, paediatric ARVs and TB and malaria drugs predominantly to low income countries. It is hoped that this mechanism will contribute to the necessary reductions in the prices of second-line drugs such as lopinavir/ritonavir and tenofovir (Viread and Kaletra). The UK Government are also helping strengthen the World Health Organisation (WHO) medicines pre-qualification process through UNITAID, in order to speed up the availability of new second-line ARV products. WHO's pre-qualification process is a critical block for low income countries using new ARVs, with a long backlog of medicines seeking pre-approval. The additional funding will accelerate the process.

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