An Overview of Access to Medicines


One of the initial advocacy priorities identified by NSWP+ (a platform for positive sex workers and others committed to equal rights for sex workers living with HIV) was treatment access and joining the campaign against trade related restrictions and patents used by large pharmaceutical companies to make huge profits from essential medicines. Sex workers identified the need for accessible information on the trade frameworks that impact upon access to medicines for people living with HIV.

This paper provides an overview of those trade frameworks and is designed specifically for sex workers and groups who wish to have a basic background in these issues in order to join the global campaign for access to medicines. These trade frameworks impact significantly on both the availability and affordability of treatment for many long-term, chronic conditions, including cancer and HIV/AIDS. This paper lays out the basics of trade-related matters and outlines how they potentially result in the lack of affordable and accessible medicines2 for people living with HIV. The impact of these trade rules has the potential to be devastating, and although sex workers already share a feeling of being ‘last in line for treatment’ sex workers wish to be included in the fight against trade-related barriers to universal access to health care.

Contents Include:

  • An Overview of Access to Medicines
  • Sex Workers Living wth HIV
  • The Right to Health and Access to Medicines
  • The World Trade Organization (WTO) and Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights
  • TRIPS Flexibilities
  • Free Trade Agreements
  • Where we are now

You can download this 10-page PDF above. This resource is in English.