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International News

South African Center Eases Pain on Wallet for AIDS Drugs

December 29, 2006

Zuzimpilo Clinic in Johannesburg offers HIV patients antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) at a third of the market rate. Funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the recently opened clinic offers consultations, laboratory tests and medicine for around 350 rand ($50 US) per month, compared to the average bill of some 1,200 rand ($170 US) per month. The clinic's purpose is to ease the pressure on cash-strapped HIV patients and overstretched hospitals.

"Up until Zuzimpilo came into being the options were either the public sector or the private sector," said clinic Director Tinyiko Khosa. "Those going to private centers were those on medical [insurance] while the public sector took in those who couldn't afford [insurance]."

Slightly more than 200,000 HIV patients in South Africa benefit from a government-sponsored ARV program. However, 5.5 million people have HIV, and nearly a million of those need ARVs. Zuzimpilo is the first of five clinics scheduled to be opened and funded by USAID.

Khosa said a key in the fight against HIV/AIDS is to encourage people to overcome fears about testing, and noted it is better to know you are positive and start treatment than not to know. Khosa said regardless of the stage of infection, it is never "too late for one to start ARVs."

Managers at Zuzimpilo said they aim to have 1,000 people on ARVs within a year and between 800 and 1,000 in a separate "wellness program." Khosa said the response to the clinic in its first three weeks has been overwhelming. "It's been humbling," she said. "It's not the number [of people] we expected. It's much more."

Back to other news for December 29, 2006

Adapted from:
Agence France Presse
12.17.2006; Fran Blandy

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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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