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Tuesday Morning Sessions at AIDS 2016 Conference Durban - Plenary Session "Where are we now?" and "Hep C treatment in HIV infected patients".
A number of barriers to treatment and reduction in transmission were discussed. Of notable repetition was the barrier of cost. This was raised by the speakers as well as protestors at the sessions. A protestor raised the issue of pharmaceutical companies overcharging for medication such as Hep C treatment at $96K in the US. The speaker responded that this was expensive, but indeed cheaper than the cost of Hep C to the health system overall, and was therefore still cost effective. The protestor responded that people were selectively being treated in the US and were not getting equal access to treatment and therefore a cure. Whilst it may seem cost effective, governments need to be willing and in a position to fund these treatments. In Africa, there are many countries in which patients simply cannot afford any of the treatment options.
In Australia, we are quite fortunate in that that our health system has embraced treatment for Hep C and HIV treatment despite costs and can offer treatment to all residents. Currently Australia is involved in studies for PrEP to help provide a case for funding. We are certainly grateful to Pharmaceutical Companies who have developed effective treatments and cures but there is a need to advocate for lower prices so that we can more easily move towards our goal of zero transmission!