XIX International AIDS Conference


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WEAD0403 - Oral Abstract

Intellectual property rights and access to HIV/AIDS medicines in french speaking African countries: issues, problems and prospects

Presented by Enga Kameni (South Africa).

E. Kameni

University of Pretoria, Faculty of Law, Pretoria, South Africa

Background: The french speaking countries of African 'have been struck the hard by the pandemic. In recent years, however, the governments have made concerted efforts in combating the disease. With the support of international organisations programs on treatment, care and education have increased. However, a recurrent problem has been the difficulties of making HIV/AIDS medicines accessible. Stringent intellectual property laws act as a stumbling block to access to HIV/AIDS medicines.
Methods: Presentation of a panoramic view of the problems created by stringent intellectual property laws and how they affect access to HIV/AIDS medicines. Analysis of various approaches to facilitate access to HIV/AIDS medicines. Proffering recommendations for reforms.
Results: Demonstrating that the patent regime of the Bangui Agreement to which most Francophone African countries have signed is hampering access to HIV/IADS medicines and that there is an urgent need for reform.
Conclusions: Though the coming into force of the WTO and the TRIPS Agreement ushered in a new dynamic on when and how countries had to use certain measures to provide, promote and protect access to HIV/AIDS medicines, french speaking African countries still have certain limited policy spaces for which to manoeuver and improve access to medicines. Most of them are signatories to international and regional treaties which creates rights to health obligations. Subsequent developments after coming into force of TRIPS have tended to tilt towards supporting access to medicines. The sad problem though is regional policy incoherence and countries' entering into treaties with TRIPS plus provisions. Fortunately, international law provides enough justification for enacting access to medicines pieces of legislation. Making maximum use of TRIPS flexibilities, incorporating human rights perspectives in intellectual property treaties, forging a strong alliance with civil society are just some of the measures needed by french African countries in increasing access to HIV/AIDS medicines.

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