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Dangerous medicines: Unproven AIDS cures and counterfeit antiretroviral drugs

DOI: 10.1186/1744-8603-4-5

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Countries, charged with fulfilling the right to health and committed to expanding access to ART must explicitly recognize their obligation to combat unproven AIDS treatments and ensure the availability of a safe and efficacious drugs supply. International donors must help support and coordinate these efforts.In the last few years governments around the world have pledged to massively scale up the delivery of antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) to achieve universal access to all. To date attention has focused on how to finance this effort and how to strengthen health care delivery systems, including how to conduct mass HIV testing programs and increase the number of health care providers worldwide. Less attention has been paid to the responsibilities of governments and international agencies to address the widespread prevalence of unproven AIDS 'cures' and the threat of counterfeit ARVs.Treatments to cure HIV/AIDS have been falsely promoted since AIDS was first identified and claims of cures continue in spite of the development of ARVs, which can dramatically slow the progression to AIDS but do not rid the body of HIV. The uncertainty and fear engendered by this incurable, stigmatizing and life-threatening disease can make people easy prey to promises of cures. But in addition to fear, there are specific factors, related to government functioning, that facilitate false claims of HIV cures, including: little or no access by people living with HIV and those populations most at risk to health care generally and ARVs specifically; stigmatizing and discriminatory treatment of people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) in health care settings; high prices for legitimate pharmaceuticals when available; little or no regulatory oversight over the fields of traditional medicine and complementary treatments; and a lack of promotion by governments of the availability and efficacy of ARVs.In some cases, government endorsement of unproven 'cures' has created confusion regarding the legitimacy of


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