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International News

Government Fight Against AIDS Sees Results in Botswana

May 7, 2003

A partnership between the government, Merck & Co. and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is starting to make headway in providing free AIDS drugs to Botswana's HIV-infected population. "The program is doing very well," said Merck official Per Wold-Olsen. In addition to providing $50 million over five years, Merck -- the world's third largest drug maker -- has committed to providing free AIDS drugs to Botswana for the life span of the partnership. As a small but encouraging indicator of the effort's success, HIV prevalence in pregnant women has dropped to 35.4 percent from 36.2 percent in 2001, Wold-Olsen said.

"We developed a strategy from grass roots level that is comprehensive, focusing on treatment, care and need for prevention," Wold-Olsen reported at a briefing during his two-day visit to Botswana. By February 2003 -- two years after the program began -- 366 local health care workers had been trained in basic AIDS care, said Wold-Olsen. Approximately 5 percent of HIV-positive people identified as needing AIDS drugs -- about 5,102 -- were enrolled for treatment. Of those enrolled, about 8 percent have died so far, Wold-Olsen noted.

Botswana has the highest HIV rate in the world, with about 19 percent of its 1.7 million people infected. It is estimated that 38 percent of its adults are infected. The diamond-rich nation is the first country on the African continent to commit to a widespread program of providing AIDS drugs through its public health system, and it has set a target of ending new HIV infections by 2016.

Back to other CDC news for May 7, 2003

Previous Updates

Adapted from:
Associated Press
05.06.03; Sello Motseta

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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.
See Also
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