I refer to Councilor Reagor’s Letter to the Editor in support of Ms. Garcia’s candidacy, specifically to his comments on HIV drugs.
As someone who has spent a substantial part of his professional life working on HIV in low- and middle-income countries, I wanted to correct an important error in Mr. Reagor’s letter.
Mr. Reagor states in his letter: “These expensive treatments are a boon for pharmaceutical companies, but of no use in the third world.”
In fact, drugs to combat HIV have been used widely in low- and middle-income countries for more than 15 years. I was the Executive Director of an AIDS treatment program for three countries in Africa in 2005 and 2006. Antiretroviral drugs have transformed the lives of tens of millions of people in countries badly affected by HIV. Thanks to global cooperation, the price of such drugs for the poorest countries is now about $75 per patient year.
These drugs have turned a death sentence into a manageable “chronic disease” for millions. By 2018, in fact, more than 16 million people in Africa alone were on antiretroviral therapy. By bringing the person’s viral load to a negligible amount, the person can live a longer and healthier life and greatly reduce the risk of transmitting HIV.
Indeed, there is no cure for HIV, as of yet. As many here know, LANL itself has been instrumental in the search for a vaccine against HIV. In terms of taking drugs for life, however, most of us would agree that for hypertension, some forms of heart disease, and a range of other largely “non-curable conditions,” drugs for life is a better choice than the alternative.
I greatly appreciate the Councilor’s service to the community. However, I have seen on several occasions that it is best accomplished when he stays in the areas about which he has some knowledge and expertise.