Thursday, March 02, 2017

#Politics and 33% fewer #HIV infections in the #UK

Professor Sheena McCormack studied the efficacy of PrEP in the United Kingdom. She headed a major NHS study to ascertain how effective the drug was, and who should be given it. The study was called PROUD. Greg Owen was to late to enrol, buying the drug privately would have set him back £500 per month, money he could not afford.

He could score some of these pills but before he started, he found he was already HIV-positive.. He posted his story on Facebook and was inundated with questions; what is PrEP, where can I get it. At some stage he remembered that medicines can be had from the Internet from countries where medicines are better affordable. Unbranded PrEP is available for £50 per month.

Greg informs people on his blog. Professor McCormack was instrumental in helping set up clinics that monitored the use of these unbranded medicines. It was based on the assertion that doctors are responsible for the care that they provide. Helpful friends monitor the supply and indicate what websites provide the correct substance

The National Health System meanwhile did not want to fund the use of PrEP in 2016. As a result more and more people became aware of PrEP and learned about the alternative. In August of 2016 the NHS lost its case in the High Court. As a result the NHS is doing a "test" for three years starting this summer for 10.000 people ignoring the 33% fewer HIV infections because of PrEP.

When Wikimedians talk about politics, having no article on Professor McCormack and on Greg Owen is relevant. With all the publicity on this case, where is the neutral point of view in this?  It is important because it highlights the cost of medicines as a determining factor on who lives and who does not. In Europe many people can afford £50 a month but in many other countries it is out of reach to make the difference it makes in Europe. According to the United Nations, we can end the HIV/Aids epidemic by 2030 and then Mr Trump happened.

It is political because it provides clarity in a time where companies like Milan make medical care too expensive. It provides clarity when the US government insists on taking away medical insurance from people.

It is political and all too often Wikipedia does not inform. We know that 12% of the 2500 most sold prescription drugs are not effective (source British Medical Journal) and we do not even register this on those drugs. Wikipedia is the prime source of information on medical matters and in my opinion we are negligent.

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