South African Drug Program Treating More People Than Previously Reported Despite Staff, Drug Shortages, Health Minister Says
June 1, 2004
More HIV-positive people in South Africa are taking antiretroviral drugs than had been previously reported despite staff shortages and difficulties in acquiring the drugs, Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang said at a press briefing following a parliamentary debate over President Thabo Mbeki's State of the Nation address, South Africa's Star reports (Smetherham, Star, 5/28). The government hopes to have 1.4 million people on the drugs by 2009, at a total cost of $700 million (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 4/27). Although all of the country's nine provinces have "made progress" in implementing the program, only Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and Western Cape currently provide antiretroviral drugs to patients, according to the South African Press Association. However, the other provinces have started actively enrolling patients by conducting testing, counseling and education in preparation for treatment, a process that can take several weeks, Tshabalala-Msimang said, the South African Press Association reports.
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