The Global Governance of HIV/AIDS
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The Global Governance of HIV/AIDS

Intellectual Property and Access to Essential Medicines

Edited by Obijiofor Aginam, John Harrington and Peter K. Yu

The Global Governance of HIV/AIDS explores the implications of high international intellectual property standards for access to essential medicines in developing countries. With a focus on HIV/AIDS governance, the volume provides a timely analysis of the international legal and political landscape, the relationship between human rights and intellectual property, and emerging issues in global health policy. It concludes with concrete strategies on how to improve access to HIV/AIDS medicines.
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Chapter 2: Communitarian globalism and disease: A normative orientation for global health

Obijiofor Aginam


It is now widely accepted that the global HIV/AIDS crisis is defying, in very complex ways, what international scholars refer to as the governance architecture of the international system (Aginam, 2005; Cooper, Kirton and Shrecker, 2007; Fidler, 2004; Zacher and Keefe, 2008). Despite realizing over a decade ago that AIDS was not just a health issue but a cross-cutting theme in the national, regional and global development agendas, it appears that, as Farmer (2003, p. 699) put it, global policy initiatives and governance responses to AIDS have ‘so far been a failure’. Although AIDS, especially in most developing countries with high prevalence of the disease, raises complex governance challenges for the agricultural, education, security, health and other public sectors, the ‘massive failure’ foreseen by Farmer is reinforced by the paradox of misery in the midst of plenty – the few tangible dividends that poor people living with the virus have derived from the enormous progress so far made by the global scientific community on AIDS treatment. While the relevant epistemic communities have explored the global HIV/AIDS crisis from a variety of disciplines – human security, development, human rights, intellectual property (IP), public health and epidemiology – the unequal access to essential medicines for AIDS treatment between infected populations in developed and developing countries continues to challenge the orthodoxy of global health (including AIDS) governance. Although global governance of AIDS encompasses both preventive and treatment therapies, this chapter explores the effectiveness and limits of existing global mechanisms for containing the HIV/AIDS crisis

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