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AIDS. 2004 Jun;18 Suppl 3:S5-7.

Antiretroviral treatment in resource-poor settings: the Brazilian experience.

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World Health Organization, HTM/HIV Department, Geneva, Switzerland.


The Brazilian HIV/AIDS drug policy has been highly debated and even criticized, particularly at the time of its implementation by the Government in early 90s. However, after more than a decade of action, the success of the Brazilian response to HIV is evident and recognized worldwide, lying upon a concerted early governmental response, a strong and effective participation of the civil society, a multisectoral mobilization, a balanced prevention and treatment approach and the advocacy of human rights in all strategies, particularly with the policy of wide access to antiretroviral drugs. This policy made highly active anti-retroviral therapy (HAART) universally available since 1996, with logistic and criteria distribution based on regularly updated national guidelines. Approximately 140,000 patients now receive antiretroviral (ARV) treatment through the public health system. As a result there has been a significant fall in morbidity/mortality rates, hospital admissions and costs of treatment, with significant growth in demand for outpatient services and decrease for hospital, home and day-care services. It has also led to improvements in the quality of life for HIV+ individuals and savings in the medical costs, while economic and social related costs also have fallen. The policy of universal access to combined antiretroviral treatment (ART)' in Brazil has been shown to be cost-effective and the financial resources devoted to this initiative represents an economically viable investment. This experience also shows that a well-designed and supported international effort to reduce drug prices and improve health infrastructure could overcome many obstacles in middle-income and limited-resource countries.

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