:: to the teeth ::    thoughts on social justice, medicine, race, hope and beats

"Another world is not only possible, she is on her way.
On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing." :: Arundhati Roy ::

"The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don't have any." :: Alice Walker ::
Thursday, August 05, 2004  

Update to my post on Cuba, and comments on comments...

I've got just a few minutes to write this before going into an umbilical hernia repair operation, so forgive the stream-o-consciousness of this post.

So, I got blasted in the comments, about my previous post about Cuba and their AIDS program. By stating the internment was "not cool" I meant that it was outright unjust and inhumane. No doubt. And I didn't mean to sound as if I was condoning the current 8 week mandatory sanitorium education. This is a mistake that happens when typing stream-of-consciousness in a few minutes. The point of that sentence, and I should have spelled it out so as not to mislead on my opinions on this matter, is that somewhere between the 5 minutes of education that many (obviously not all) patients in America get about HIV when they test positive, and the 8 weeks that Cubans get, would be appropriate -- possibly a structured day or something like that, with education, answering of questions, social services information, and social support, etc would be really helpful for patients who get diagnosed with HIV. Mandatory? I'm not sure. But free (or even paid for, for patients missing a day of work? Yes, many benefits to patients and society).

Also -- I often hear the statements made from one of the commentors -- that these poor countries steal "someone else's work", for example in reverse engineering AIDS drugs, and then can afford to sell these drugs at lower prices. It's such a complete myth that the reason AIDS drug prices are and were so high in America has to do with compensating for drug companies' research and development costs. It's a well known fact that companies spend way more on marketing than on R&D. Second, taxpayers finance more than 55% of drug research and development (thanks to Graham for this link) so I think it's blasphemous for American private drug companies to be patenting these drugs -- ESPECIALLY the crucial LIFE-SAVING drugs -- for 20 years, and reaping all $$ benefits from them, AND charging whatever the heck they want to charge for them. Only because of activists' work in this country and abroad, did the cost of AIDS drugs come down from $12,000 for a cocktail for a year per person, to less than $200 for the same. Who's to say, given the above information, that other countries should not be able to reap the benefits of lifesaving drugs, given the above information? I applaud countries like Cuba for not being dependent on America for drugs (and a note to the commentor -- America would not ALLOW these life-saving drugs to be sold to Cuba, so what's a country to do if it wants to save its own peoples' lives?) and countries like Brazil for revolting against international trade rules that were created by rich countries to make poor countries pay exorbitant prices for drugs.

Ok, that's my morning rant :> Back to work...

posted by Anjali Taneja | 8/05/2004 06:38:00 AM | |


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