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Don't forget your friends in Africa! We also need drugs!
Feb 29, 2004

Dear Sir-

I am a young woman from Namibia, Sub-Saharan Africa, and I have recently been diagnosed with HIV. I have been reading quite a bit about the exciting new drugs that are now available. Are these drugs only available to the Western World? Do people in Southern Africa have any hope for receiving such high quality treatment or will we continue to suffer as we have been up until now. Thank you in advance for your reply. Please don't forget about your friends in this part of the world.

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hello young woman form Namibia,

Thank you for writing. I'm sorry to hear about your recent HIV diagnosis. Namibia is one of the top five HIV/AIDS-affected countries in the world with an adult HIV prevalence of 22.5%. Like many parts of Africa, HIV infection in Namibia occurs primarily via sexual intercourse and mother-to-child transmission. Approximately 6,000 infants are born HIV-infected each year. Infection via blood, blood products, and between men who have sex with men is believed to be negligible. Women in Namibia bear a disproportionate burden of the epidemic.

In early 2003 the Ministry of Health and Social Services announced it would offer highly active antiretroviral therapy in its 35 hospitals. Also in 2003 the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) provided $2.15 million for general HIV/AIDS activities and $5.45 million for services to prevent mother-to-child transmission in Namibia. Despite these efforts, the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Namibia is still on an upward trajectory. Stronger drug and commodity logistics systems (for testing, counseling, treatment and prevention) are required to meet the every growing demand -- particularly for drugs to treat opportunistic infections and for antiretroviral therapy. Yes, effective anti-HIV medications are available in Namibia, but the supply is limited, and gaining access to them can be challenging. If you live close to a hospital, I would suggest you try there first. There are also NGO (non-government organizations) working in Namibia to provide care. Check with your local Ministry of Health. I assure you that I have not "forgotten my friends" in Sub-Saharan Africa. My foundation is continuing to do everything it can to provide crucial services to men, women, and children living with HIV/AIDS in many locations around the world, including Sub-Saharan Africa.

I hope your comments will serve as a wake-up call for all of us to redouble our efforts to battle the suffering caused by this scourge and to confront the inequities in our current world system of providing care and life prolonging treatment to all those in need.

Please stay well, continue to demande the care that your deserve, and know that we will not abandon you.

Dr. Bob



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