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[685] MSF to help scale up generics treatment

Doctors Group Helps Spread AIDS Strategy

RIO DE JANEIRO, Sept. 12 (Reuters) — Doctors Without Borders said today that it was working with Brazil to export the country's successful anti-AIDS program and its locally made AIDS drugs to other developing countries.

The president of the organization, Bernard Pecoul, said he and Brazil's health minister, Jose Serra, had signed a letter of intent as the first step toward recreating the program in Africa, Asia and other parts of Latin America.

"It will start the process of implementing the ambitious AIDS program in other countries," Dr. Pecoul said. "One of the aspects is exporting the drugs, but it's also to implement training, production of generics and help with distribution logistics."

He was in Brazil to meet with health officials in Rio de Janeiro and Brasilia, and to attend the country's fourth congress on AIDS prevention.

Brazil's AIDS program has become a model for developing countries around the world. In absolute terms, Brazil has a high number of registered AIDS cases, at 210,000, but it has managed, with aggressive prevention education, to keep H.I.V. infection to less than 1 percent of the population.

Brazil has also stood up to the international pharmaceutical industry, producing 8 of the 12 drugs used in the anti-AIDS cocktail and distributing them free to patients.

Doctors Without Borders, or Medècins Sans Frontières, plans to work with Brazil to transfer the technology and training needed to establish similar programs.

Dr. Pecoul said countries like Argentina had the capability for developing their own projects, while many nations in Africa and Central America would have to pool resources to develop regional programs.

Doctors Without Borders also aims to buy AIDS drugs made by Brazil's state laboratory, Far-Manguinhos, though Dr. Pecoul emphasized that it would not be a commercial operation.

- A posting from intaids@hivnet.ch

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