MSF study shows treatment in resource-poor settings is effective

Graham McKerrow, HIV i-Base

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) reported to a satellite meeting in Barcelona that a study of 1,000 people on treatment in resource-poor settings showed that the patients adhered well to regimens and the treatments were effective.

Jean-Michel Tassie from Paris described his analysis of people receiving treatment at MSF treatment programmes in Asia, Africa and Latin America. Fred Minandi a farmer from Malawi and one of the recipients of the free-to-user treatment told the meeting how much difference the treatment programmes made.

Tassie said that his analysis showed that after six months 93% of the patients studied were still alive and that 96% of those were still on treatment. He said his research showed individual benefit and good adherence to treatment, which was mainly combinations of NNRTIs.

Minandi told the meeting he had been ill for four years “but I am here thanks to the MSF treatment programme”. He said his visit to the Barcelona conference was his first trip outside Malawi, and he then spoke movingly about the problems his country faced.

“I am losing friends because they don’t want to talk about it. People in Malawi don’t want to know and that is why my country is dying in silence.

“Treatment is the best tool against stigma. When you are ill people see their own deaths in your eyes, but with treatment you look better and people are not so afraid.

“I would like to appeal to all the pharmaceutical companies to reduce the prices of their drugs for all the poorer countries,” he said

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