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International News

Romanian Parents Claim AIDS Children Dying Due to Shortage of Drugs

April 11, 2002

Shortages of drugs and the poverty of their families have led to the death of dozens of HIV-infected children this year in Romania, a national association of parents' organizations said Wednesday. The National Union for People with AIDS, which comprises 17 parents' organizations, urged the government to provide more money for drugs and food for children.

Treatment with antiretroviral drugs has come to a halt as many hospitals and clinics around the country have run out of the critical medicine, a statement said. "Interrupting treatment causes the immune system to deteriorate, and this hastens death," said Lucia Stirbu, an AIDS specialist working with the parents' union. She said 20 children had died in northeast Romania and 18 near the Black Sea this year.

The AIDS organization said it would sue the government to demand it provide the legally mandated care and financial support for families with HIV-infected children. "Over 87 percent of families with AIDS children live with deep poverty," and without help from the government they cannot provide proper nutrition to these children, said Stirbu. About 90 percent of the children acquired HIV in hospitals through transfusions or the reuse of syringes. Former dictator Nicolae Ceausescu denied the existence of AIDS and took no steps to stop its spread.

The government said Wednesday the shortages of antiretrovirals were due to contract problems with drug companies. It said it resumed funding of AIDS drugs on Monday. The situation will improve in about a month, the state news agency quoted the Health Ministry as saying. Treatment of patients was interrupted many times during the last few years because hospitals struggling with millions of dollars in debt could not pay drug suppliers on time. Although Romania has only about 10,000 people infected with the virus, it has the highest number of children infected with HIV/AIDS in Europe -- about 8,000. Under the best conditions, only about 40 percent of HIV patients receive modern drug therapy. The rest are treated with less effective drugs.


Back to other CDC news for April 11, 2002

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Adapted from:
Associated Press
04.10.02; Alexandru Alexe

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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
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