On July 1st Cuba was officiallyrecognized by the World Health Organization (WHO) as the first nation in theworld to eradicate maternally transmitted HIVand Syphilis. The General Directorof the World Health Organization hailed this milestone as ‘one of the greatestpossible successes in public health’ and went on to encourage other nations tofollow Cuba's example.

The island country has,as a matter of fact, a socialized and universal system of medicine that isoften compared to that of European nations and that in many ways surpasses thatof the United States.

Cuba's relentless fight in preventing and eradicating HIV/AIDS and other sexuallycommunicable diseases however, has some history. In fact, the communist nationbegan its prevention program even before the first case was identified in 1986.Unlike many of its Caribbean neighbors, Cuba has been able to control thespread of the disease with an enormous sexual education campaign in publicschools, and making condomsextremely cheap and available everywhere. 

Cuba's accomplishments in the field go even further.

It's not simply enough toprevent HIV/AIDS, but it is alsoimportant to care for those who have already contracted it and allow them tolive full and productive lives. The substances that allow this are called antiretroviral,and work by preventing the spread of the infection and its effect on the immunesystem. The greatest obstacle for developing nations in curbing their HIV/AIDS levels has been theprohibitive cost of these treatments.

By ignoring patenting laws andregulations and instead prioritizing the well-being of its people, Cuba hasbeen able to produce generic versions of the drugs and distribute them widelyto the affected population. This has greatly reduced mortality rates. Accordingto a UN report on the Cuban HIV/AIDSmanagement, 

"in 1996, when the Ministry of Public Health bought drugs to treatHIV-positive children and their mothers, the cost of treatment per person peryear was US$ 14 000.

Now, with the production of generic drugs in Cuba, theprice varies US$ 31 to US$ 169 per year".

The internationalistpillar of the Cuban revolution, however, doesn't allow them to keep theseadvancements for themselves. For years now they have been providing armies ofdoctors and medicines to developing nations worldwide to fight the HIV/AIDS plague effectively andefficiently, preventing thousands and thousands of deaths. It is estimated thatCuba provides more medical personnel to the developing world than all the G8countries combined! This goes to show what an even relatively small and poornation can achieve when it bases its health policies on the basis of what isbest for their citizens.

Will the UnitedStates policy makers take example from one of its longest-lasting politicalenemies? It's unlikely, but maybe its citizens might.

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