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International News

South Africa: AIDS Activists Leak Damning Government Report

July 15, 2003

According to a South African government study, the lives of more than 1.7 million HIV-infected South Africans could be saved by 2010 if the government made AIDS drugs available immediately.

The study, compiled by officials from the health and finance departments to determine the cost and impact of a national AIDS drug program, was completed five months ago but not released. The Cape Times newspaper said it was leaked to politicians, trade unions and others by the Treatment Action Campaign, an AIDS activist group warring with the government over its sluggish approach to combating the AIDS pandemic.

The leaked report said 733,000 lives would be saved by 2010 if half the number of those in need of AIDS drugs were treated. About 1.7 million lives could be saved if drugs were available nationwide, the Cape Times reported. About 1.8 million additional children will lose a parent by 2010 if the drugs are not provided. The number could be reduced by 860,000 if the government made the drugs available.

The leaked report put the cost of a national program to provide AIDS medicine at between 16.9 billion rand (US$2.2 billion) and 21.4 billion rand (US$2.8 billion) by 2010. The Finance Ministry said earlier this year it had set aside 3 billion rand (US$393 million) in the current year's budget for AIDS drugs. The report, however, found that rollout for only half of those in need of AIDS drugs would cost 7 billion rand (US$919 million) over the next two years.

The government has resisted beginning a wide-scale program to distribute AIDS drugs, and some government officials have questioned the effectiveness of the drugs, which have turned AIDS from a death sentence to a chronic disease in the developed world.

Back to other news for July 15, 2003

Adapted from:
Associated Press
07.14.03; Elliott Sylvester

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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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