New bill in Argentina doubles down on infectious disease treatment 

After intense advocacy by civil society, a bill in Argentina might soon make treatment for viral hepatitis and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) available to all. It comes on the heels of another bill that expanded HIV treatment eligibility to all in 2015.

On July 10, AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) Argentina, in coordination with government officials and partner organizations, presented legislation called the “Response to HIV, Viral Hepatitis and Sexually-Transmitted Infections”. The bill still needs approval before it becomes law.

“HIV, hepatitis and STIs disproportionately affect those who typically have no voice,” said AHF Argentina Country Program Manager Dr. Miguel Pedrola. “AHF applauds the government officials willing to take on a responsibility that is vital to ending the epidemic. Now it is important that we follow through to make this law a reality.”

The bill guarantees the right to access healthcare, promotes research and ensures that diagnosis, treatment and education are available to anyone with viral hepatitis or STIs. It also protects patients from discrimination regardless of their status.

Along with the scientific and medical communities, over 100 people and 50 civil society organizations attended the New Law HIV Project forum.

“Overall health promotion and the request for greater education on HIV were the focal points with this effort,” said Positivo Goya Coordinator Hernán Scheller. “The epidemic must be addressed in an integral way, while also considering factors such as poverty, marginalization, human rights and avoiding harmful stigmas.”

UNAIDS estimates 130,000 people in Argentina are living with HIV and up to 30% of the population are not aware of their status.

AHF has been working in the Argentina since 2013 and provides treatment and care for 8,092 patients.