Saturday, March 08, 2008

Hundreds dying of AIDS never accessed drug cocktails: report

From the Vancouver Province:
Hundreds of people with HIV are dying without ever taking the drug cocktails that can prolong their lives for decades and the biggest at-risk group is poor, homeless, mentally ill or drug-addicted.

A new study by the B.C. Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS found 40 per cent of the 1,436 people who died of HIV-related causes between 1997 and 2005 hadn't accessed the antiretroviral drugs.

It found 567 persons, or about 63 a year or more than one every week, who had tested positive died without treatment.

The antiretrovirals have improved in the past 10 years from a "burdensome quantity of therapy" requiring "many doses, many side effects" to a once-a-day dose that can prolong a person's life for decades, said Dr. Julio Montaner, director of the centre.

They also prevent those infected from spreading the disease.

"The treatment is free and effective but in reality is not accessible to those who need it most," he said.

He said the problems of mental illness, homelessness, drug addiction and food security have to be tackled first because those infected may not be pursuing treatment of a long-term illness while they're faced with more immediate concerns. ...more

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