Paraguay: AIDS Activists Denounce Removal of Protease Inhibitor From Combination Therapies

In 1997 in Paraguay, the Programa Nacional de Lucha contra el SIDA (National Program to Fight against AIDS) began distributing free treatments, giving out prescriptions for Fortovase (Saquinavir), AZT and Hivid (d4t). Thanks to this initiative many persons who were HIV-positive saw measurable improvements in their viral loads and CD4 counts. Beginning on July 1,1998, due to a decision by the Ministerio de Hacienda (Treasury) not to release funds needed to purchase medications, people who were HIV-positive and receiving free treatment were taken off this regimen. Government officials cited the reduction in AIDS-related mortality rates due to the medications; paradoxically, the subsequent increase in patient load has led them to run out of the medications.

After pressure from activists (and also thanks to your previous letters of support), the triple therapy was again distributed starting in September 1998, until the beginning of December. In December patients received a communiqué informing them that due to the new national budget, they would now receive only two retrovirals, and that each patient would be responsible for buying his or her own protease inhibitor. These drug prices are far beyond the means of many of the persons living with HIV/AIDS.

Activists in Paraguay are requesting that letters of protest be sent to the following national leaders requesting immediate action to restore full treatment.

Please send letters of protest to:

Ing. Raúl Cubas Grau
Presidente de la Nación Paraguaya
Presidencia De La República
Asunción
PARAGUAY
Email: webmaster@presidencia.gov.py
Tel./Fax (595)21-444111
Dra. Carmen Frutos de Almada
Ministra de Salud Pública y Bienestar Social
Ministerio de Salud Publica y Bienestar Social
Asunción
PARAGUAY
Tel/Fax: (595)21-207328 / 206700
Senador Dr. Carlos María Ramírez Boettner.
Presidente de la Comisión de Salud y Seguridad Social de la Cámara de Senadores
Honorable Congreso de la Nación Paraguaya
Asunción
PARAGUAY
Te/Fax : (595)21-448100
Dr. Nicolás Aguayo
Director
Programa Nacional de Lucha Contra el SIDA
Avda. Venezuela y Florida
Asunción
PARAGUAY
Telefax : 595-21-204-604
Email: pnsida@uninet.com.py

Please send copies to the following:

Bernardo Puente Oliviera
Av. Bernardino Caballero 219
Asunción
PARAGUAY
Email: berpuente@hotmail.com