An analysis of 48,785 HIV-positive patients enrolled in China's National Free Antiretroviral Treatment Program over a five-year period revealed that "[h]alf of China's AIDS patients stopped responding to treatment over five years and didn't have access to the back-up drugs available in developed nations," according to an Annals of Internal Medicine study, Bloomberg reports. The study authors said the results are similar to those found in other low- and middle-income countries, according to the news service.
Beginning in 2002, people living with HIV in China could receive free HIV treatment; however, second-line drugs were not available. "More expensive second-line pills … are now being introduced to the national treatment program, Zhang and colleagues wrote," Bloomberg writes. The study was funded by the NIH, CDC and China's health ministry (Bennett, 8/18).
In a related story, the New York Times examines local media reports in Romania that the global recession is causing country-wide antiretroviral shortages. According to the newspaper, "AIDS patients have appealed to President Traian Basescu to restore their medications, the newspaper Romania Libera reported." The article examines the history of HIV/AIDS in the country, "which has been lauded as a poor country that successfully tackled its AIDS epidemic," and its efforts to connect patients with medications (McNeil, 8/17).
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