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United States to Provide $66M to Zambia This Year for Fight Against HIV/AIDS, U.S. Ambassador Says

January 27, 2004

The United States is expected to give $66 million to Zambia this year to help the country fight its HIV/AIDS epidemic, one of the worst in the world, according to U.S. Ambassador to Zambia Martin Brennan, Reuters reports. Approximately one in five people in Zambia is HIV-positive, and more than 800,000 children are orphans because of the epidemic, according to Reuters. The money, which is part of President Bush's five-year, $15 billion global AIDS initiative, will be used to purchase antiretroviral drugs and train doctors and nurses to administer the medications. "We are (going) to work with Zambians to educate people about AIDS, to enable those infected with HIV to have access to treatment," Brennan said, adding, "We want to reach 200,000 Zambians in the next two years." He said that 55% of the money would be used to buy antiretroviral drugs, which would be distributed free-of-charge to HIV/AIDS patients who cannot afford them. Currently, about 8,000 Zambians receive free treatment under a government-sponsored program that was supposed to reach 100,000 people.

Brand Name vs. Generic
Critics of the global AIDS initiative said that most of the money would go to Western pharmaceutical companies to purchase name-brand drugs instead of toward the purchase of locally produced generic antiretroviral drugs. However, U.S. Embassy Public Affairs Officer James Greene said, "The (U.S.) government is currently working out guidelines and a mechanism for buying the AIDS drugs. ... We will only know after two to three weeks where the drugs will be bought." Brennan said that Zambia will receive about $15 million in the next few weeks, with the balance expected to be made available by July. He added that Zambia's allocation of funding would increase in 2005 if the country could show that the initial funds were well-spent, according to Reuters (Shacinda, Reuters, 1/26).

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