In 1997, a patent was granted on Combivir. Combivir has shown itself to be one of the most effective drugs in dealing with the spread of HIV and AIDS. It significantly reduces the spread of the viruses during sexual intercourse and has become one of the most prescribed drugs out there.
Medical patents are good for fifteen years, and the patent finally expired a couple of weeks ago. This means that other companies can now make generic versions of Combivir, which will not only increase availability since it'll be cheaper, but with more people using it, the spread of the diseases can be controlled or maybe even choked off.
But there's a problem. It's a legal problem.
Most of the country has enacted laws that will send you to jail for reckless endangerment if you sleep with someone without disclosing you are HIV+. It is seen as doing whatever is within your power to stop the spread of the disease. And some take this a step further, and if you do not do anything to help stem any diseases, you can be arrested and charged.
Now, lest you think this is just me reading too much into things, not so. California has so far arrested 32 people for refusing to take medication, including one woman who had syphilis and was sleeping with multiple partners. In fact, California did it again just last week, arresting a 34-year old man who refused to take his meds to keep his tuberculosis from becoming contagious. And this is expected to be a loooooooooong court battle.
The legal problem is this: public health. At what point does the government have the authority to step in? And will they do it once the generic version of Combivir becomes more available? Some might argue that HIV is not like TB, you can't spread it by sneezing or casual contact. But if the person is sexually active, does that constitute a threat to public health? Especially when they are already enforcing the laws for syphilis? Are HIV+ people going to be forced to take this drug (what about side effects?) because of this?
Keep watching the news. Because whatever is decided, you can bet it's going to be made policy elsewhere, including where you live. Remember, when it comes to stuff like this, no one is safe.