FIAR AND FAIR TRADE


Rhodiola rosea

In developing countries, the FIAR model combines treatment and prevention programs. This will include, as needed, condom, lube and safer sex information, access to traditional medicine, clinical evaluation of traditional medicines, along with access to ARV therapy and treatment for opportunistic infections. This is a model for comprehensive care which also recognizes the need to minimize costs. Validated technologies such as spot-blood testing for diagnosing HIV disease (obviating the need for tubes of blood and the need for refrigeration), alternative p24 testing for viral load, Dynabeads for CD4+ counts, etc., will be considered as needed. FIAR's initial goal in working with local communities to design and implement clinical studies is to help establish and strengthen local needs by bringing attention and funding where it is most needed.

But once the study is done--what next?

Some of the studies may show negative results. Here, the consequences are clear. That therapy is not something people should expend precious resources on! It doesn't mean the intervention is worthless, only that it does not have a benefit for addressing the question or issue that the study investigated.

However, what happens if the intervention DOES show benefit? Will that result in more people using the intervention? Won't that mean someone can make lots of money? Who should benefit?

If the results show an intervention is helpful, of course, that benefit may help other countries and cultures, including people living with HIV in the United States. But where will the money go from the sales of such products?

Here is where the concept of FAIR TRADE comes into play. Please don't confuse this with the big, multilateral (or at least ostensibly multilateral) agreements like NAFTA and GATT that are rooted in concepts of "free trade." These are profoundly different ideas!

FIAR will draw up legal agreements prior to commencing studies to address issues related to the commercialization or patenting (if necessary and appropriate) that address who and to what degree the beneficiaries shall be. FIAR will seek, in those agreements, to assure that Fair Trade practices are adopted whenever local use of botanicals is initiated. FIAR recognizes that all too often, international interests are at the expense of local populations. However, local communities are developing new ways to help their local economy in ways that alleviate poverty. One example is the honey producers and coffee growers of Mexico (the link is but one of many sites on the issue). To the extent such economic systems may be possible in areas where botanicals are harvested for use in clinical studies (e.g., African nations, central and South America, India, Nepal, Thailand), FIAR will seek to establish at the outset agreements with partners that any commercial advantage that may arise from positive study results will accrue to local populations. That is:

  • to the communities of people living with HIV/AIDS;
  • to helping create a center for access to antivirals;
  • to local practitioners and healers;
  • to local medical infrastructure (e.g., syringe access, diagnostic tools, etc.);
  • to conservation efforts; and
  • to the farmers and harvesters of botanicals
This, in turn, may have further benefits to the local environment by encouraging the preservation of natural ecosystems as valuable commodities to be cared for and nurtured wisely.

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