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Patents, Pills, and the Press

The Rise and Fall of the Global HIV/AIDS Medicines Crisis in the News


Thomas Owen

HIV/AIDS is a global health crisis of unprecedented proportions. Afflicting millions worldwide, its social, political, economic, and ethical dimensions have rendered explicit the vast inequalities of our «negatively globalized planet». Since the late 1990s, a major feature of the crisis has been the dispute over intellectual property protection and medicines access.
In this book, Thomas Owen examines the mediatization of this dispute. Weaving together contemporary media theory and interdisciplinary research with computer-assisted news analysis and interviews with journalists and civil society campaigners, the book illuminates the intersecting constitutive relationships between global crises, global governance, and global media. In a context of changing media technologies, logics, and practices, this book observes where the mediatized conflict surrounding global medicines access has at times consolidated elite political economic power, and at other times provided civil society campaigners their greatest opportunities for global social change.
With an interdisciplinary approach, this book is suitable for courses on global media communication and global journalism, as well as advanced undergraduate and postgraduate courses in public health communication, political communication, social movement studies, and international relations.
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Chapter 8. Conclusion


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Of course I know that the problem on the ground—HIV/AIDS—is still a major issue, but as a political issue I think we manoeuvred in such a way that indeed the confrontational and emotional debates have really almost died out.

—Trade Negotiator (in Morin, 2011, p. 244)

In 2013, an estimated 1.5 million people died from AIDS-related illness (UNAIDS, 2014). 2.1 million people became newly infected with the virus, bringing the global tally to 35 million people living with HIV/AIDS and 17.7 million orphans who have lost parents to the disease (UNAIDS, 2014). Approximately 13 million people in 2013 had access to antiretroviral therapy (UNAIDS, 2014). 5.6 million of these were added since 2010, with the proportion of people in need of treatment receiving it increasing from 10% in 2006 to 37% in 2013 (UNAIDS, 2014). In sub-Saharan Africa, 87% of people living with HIV who know their status received ARV therapy, and nearly 76% of them have achieved viral suppression (UNAIDS, 2014). In short, the recent advances in global access to HIV/AIDS medicines have been dramatic—the “golden decade” in global public health (von Schoen-Angerer et al., 2012, p. 52). However, with 22 million people, or three of five people living with HIV, not receiving treatment—including three out of four children (UNAIDS, 2014)—it is clear that the global crisis of HIV/AIDS ← 173 | 174 → medicines access is far from over. Yet while the crisis...

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