Ahead of May elections, people living with HIV in the Dominican Republic (DR) are demanding that their 2012 presidential candidates address the financial sustainability issues related to their treatment. The Dominican Network of People Living with HIV (REDOVIH +), the Association for the Solidarity Struggle Against AIDS (ASOLSIDA), the Foundation Paloma Group and Grupo Clara have jointly launched a petition which calls for a statement of commitment from prospective leaders to address the challenges of funding treatment in the DR. The group points to an existing treatment gap as well as the country's current reliance on foreign funding.
"Universal Access to HIV treatment is 100 percent financed by international donor agencies. Currently 18,432 adults and 1,002 children... are receiving treatment. A total of 33,635 HIV cases are registered in the National Program of Comprehensive Services. This leaves 13,701 people living with HIV without their treatment," the petition reads.
Noting that the availability of generic drugs has significantly reduced treatment prices in the global market, the group is calling for renewed government engagement on the issue. It also notes that Article 17 of the Basic Health Plan explicitly excludes HIV treatment as an entitlement, an approach that runs counter to that of other countries in the region.
"The Dominican Social Security System is not consistent in its principles of universality, equity, solidarity and comprehensiveness in relation to Universal Access to HIV treatment," the group alleges. They add that "access to HIV treatment significantly impacts morbidity and mortality of HIV while keeping people at full capacity and able to lead productive lives. Treatment is also prevention as it significantly reduces HIV transmission from one person to another.The lack of access to HIV treatment significantly turns backwards all the efforts and progress made on HIV in the country." Just last month the world received further evidence that high uptake of antiretroviral treatment prevents new HIV infections.