July 12, 2010
Inter Press Service examines the growing concern among HIV/AIDS advocates that the Malawian government's adoption of the WHO's updated HIV/AIDS treatment guidelines will lead to a decrease in the number of HIV-positive patients with access to free treatment. Malawi "has been procuring the first line of the HIV course of therapy ... at about 33 dollars but the new drugs will cost the government 100 dollars per month for every person, according to [Mary Shawa,] Principal Secretary for HIV and AIDS in the office of the president and cabinet," the news service writes. "Currently the Malawi government provides free anti-retroviral drugs to about 250,000 people. There are up to one million people living with HIV and the HIV prevalence rate is at 12 percent, according to the Ministry of Health," IPS adds (Ngozo, 7/10).
In related news, Agence France-Presse reports that Zimbabwe "may not have enough anti-AIDS drugs to comply with [WHO] recommendations on providing treatment to people with HIV. 'The number of people in need of treatment will double if we follow the World Health Organisation plan,' Tsitsi Mutasa Apollo, co-ordinator of HIV treatment in the health ministry, said" in a state-run newspaper on Sunday." According to Zimbabwean publication, "The new guidelines would mean about 500,000 people need treatment," AFP adds (7/11).