amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research

News Briefs

April 2004


China’s first local law to bolster prevention efforts went into effect in Yunnan Province on March 1. The law adds to the duties of local government by making one of their responsibilities HIV/AIDS prevention. The law mandates that the province create an organization dedicated to AIDS “control” (composed of officials from the divisions of public security, health, and education) and provide disposable needles for injection drug users and free or cheap condoms in hotels and nightclubs. Yunnan is home to the country’s largest population of AIDS patients. (Xinhua News Agency, March 1, 2004)

According to a recent survey, one in ten families in Jakarta includes a member who is using illegal drugs. Yayasan Cinta Anak Bangsa (YCAB) conducted the study in conjunction with the National Narcotics Board and the University of Indonesia Institute of Applied Psychology. YCAB’s chief executive Veronica Colondam said the survey’s purpose was to raise awareness and push for increased prevention measures. The study, carried out in 90 sub-districts in Jakarta where drug use is known to be a problem, found that 80 percent of people being treated for a drug addiction were between the ages of 15 and 20. The Ministry of Health reported separately that half of injection drug users are teenagers and are HIV positive. (The Jakarta Post, February 6, 2004)

Against this backdrop, the narcotics division of the Jakarta Police will create Indonesia’s first HIV/AIDS Public Information Center, which will include a telephone hotline and a web site intended to increase awareness of HIV among the public. (The Jakarta Post, February 27, 2004)

A report released by the Health Ministry says that “many” Malaysians between the ages of 10 and 24 are sexually active. The Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health Report 2003, which collated data from 260 studies, found a range of reported incidences of sexual activity among youth, the highest being 54 percent. Additional media research done before the report’s release put the figure at 27 percent. One of the studies, the Second National Morbidity Study, found that of sexually active high school students, 9.4 percent had visited sex workers. The report concluded that adolescents were not only sexually active, but were engaging in “high-risk sex without proper protection” and emphasized the importance of improving sex education for adolescents. (The Star, February 6, 2004)

Malaysia will become the first country to issue a compulsory license allowed by the Doha Declaration on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights and Public Health. Under the declaration, countries that are not able to manufacture HIV/AIDS drugs may issue a license to import or produce a product that is under a patent without the permission of the patent holder. The Malaysian government enabled the local company Syarikat Megah Pharma to obtain a compulsory license to import four antiretroviral drugs from Indian pharmaceutical maker, Cipla. Cipla will sell the drugs “under fixed-ceiling prices to the government of Malaysia for exclusive supply to state hospitals for two years.” Patent holders Bristol-Myers Squibb and GlaxoSmithKline will both receive compensation, as stipulated by the Declaration. (Pharma Marketletter, March 1, 2004)

Doctors are coming together in Tamil Nadu to form India’s first physician network to create a uniform approach to HIV/AIDS treatment. Tamil Nadu Doctors Network for HIV/AIDS Care will be based in Chennai, but the 150 participating physicians will operate out of their districts. The doctors will receive training in therapy regimens, clinical procedures, and social and ethical issues. The main goal of the organization will be to standardize treatment and ensure it complies with guidelines created by the National AIDS Control Organization. A secondary role the physicians will take on will be to reduce the stigma and discrimination often directed toward people living with HIV/AIDS, even reporting doctors who discriminate to the authorities. (The Hindu, February 6, 2004)