Welcome back to Six Minute Sex Ed, the podcast that helps people talk about sex, relationships, and growing up. Created and hosted by Sex Education Teacher Kim Cavill. Find her at www.teaandintimacy.com - https://twitter.com/sexposparenting - https://www.instagram.com/sixminutesexed/
This week’s episode is Level Two, making it perfect for tweens, teens, and adults. I’m going to change the way you think about HIV.
The national institute of health, a government body, led the taxpayer funded research that developed PrEP, an HIV prevention drug, and Remdesivire, an anti-viral that shows early promise in fighting Covid. Gilead Sciences, a massive pharmaceutical company, enjoys government sanctioned exclusive patent protection on both of those drugs.
The CDC estimates over 1.1. million Americans need PrEP and can’t get it because Gilled charges $2400/month when it costs less than $6/month to make. Gillead made 3 billion dollars in profit off PrEP in 2018.
Gilead is going to charge $3200 for Redesivire, even for people with private insurance. If remdesivir were sold at the cost of production, it would cost $10, not $3,120.
This is Gilead’s business model: take a drug developed largely with taxpayer funds, get an exclusive patent on production from the US government, then charge obscene amounts of money for it. That creates a viral loaded class of people who need the drug, the majority of which are black and brown.
Our federal government could solve both these problems tomorrow. Legally, they could be be co-owners of the patents for both drugs and could execute what’s called “March in orders” and seize the patents. They could immediately allow for generic manufacturing of both drugs, increasing the accessibility of the treatment and driving down the price. But the government does nothing. On a global scale, accessible PrEP, combined with the right public policies could end HIV, just like we ended Polio. But we don’t.
That’s why every time a young person asks me, “Why don’t we have a cure for AIDS?” I think of Jeff McConnell, the HIV positive sociologist who died in 2014 and his question to his friend, Dr. Grant, “If we discovered a way to end the HIV epidemic, would we?” I think of him because the answer, so far, is no.