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Don’t trade away our lives, urge folk with HIV/Aids

As the negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) enter what could be its last round, we as people living with HIV/Aids (PLHIV), urge the Malaysian government not to trade away our lives.

The chief negotiators are meeting from July 24 to 27 in Hawaii, followed by the meeting of trade ministers from July 28 to 31. The intellectual property chapter is one of the most contentious issues because of the potential effects it has on access to affordable medicines. It is one of the outstanding issues that will be the focus of attention in the Hawaii meeting.

Although the TPPA is negotiated in secret, the chapter on intellectual property has been leaked. The proposed provisions go beyond what is required in the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (Trips). These so-called Trips-plus provisions have been demonstrated to result in high prices for longer and will hamper access to cheaper generic medicines.

These medicines are our lifeline. PLHIV need to have continuous treatment access with 2nd line regime and 3rd line regime to prolong our life. If they become unaffordable, many of us will not be able to continue treatment and will die premature deaths.

As the government negotiates what is a matter of life and death for us in the coming days, we plead with it not to deprive us of our rights to life and health.

EDWARD LOW is director, Positive Malaysian Treatment Access & Advocacy Group (MTAAG+)

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