Sex workers, HIV-infected hold rally against FTA with EU

Published: February 13, 2012

Around 250 sex workers, those living with HIV and others today took out a silent rally opposing any move to ink Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the European Union vis-a-vis supply of generic life-saving drugs, saying medicine costs would skyrocket.

It was organised by "Ashraya", a registered community based organisation comprising sex workers and non-sex workers living with HIV, under the umbrella of parent body Ashodaya Samithi, Mysore.

The organisation said unlike a decade ago, treatment for prolonging the life span of people living with HIV is possible now through Anti-Retroviral Therapy (ART). This has been made possible primarily due to availability of generic drugs that Indian pharmaceutical industry manufactures and supplies at affordable cost to over 96 countries across the globe.

"Treatment that was costing around Rs 15,000 a month has come down to Rs 2,500 a month which makes it economically viable for the Indian government to provide it free of cost to people living with HIV", Secretary of Ashraya, Bhagyamma said.

Accepting FTA would mean thousands of people living with HIV in India cannot afford to receive these drugs any more as its cost would skyrocket, the organisation warned.

"People living with HIV have a hope with ART. Today our government is able to give it to us free because of its affordable cost. This agreement will snatch this hope away and make us destitute once again. We cannot allow this to happen", said Pallavi T G, President of Ashraya.

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