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Ethiopia Providing No-Cost Antiretroviral Drugs to 23,000 People; Health Ministry Sets Target of 58,000 by July

March 8, 2006

Ethiopia's Ministry of Health currently is providing antiretroviral drugs at no cost to about 23,000 HIV-positive people in the country and aims to increase the number to 58,000 by July, 100,000 by December and 200,000 by August 2008, Health Ministry Press Officer Ahmed Imano said on Friday, IRIN News reports (IRIN News, 3/6). The initiative, which started in January 2005, is the fifth HIV/AIDS campaign by the Ethiopian government since 1996, but it is the first to include the provision of antiretrovirals (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 1/26/05). The President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief in 2004 spent $43 million on HIV/AIDS programs in Ethiopia and in 2005 pledged $61 million, about half of which was used to purchase antiretrovirals, according to IRIN News. Imano said that about 245,000 HIV-positive people in the country need antiretroviral drug treatment. The health ministry also said that since the beginning of this year, 126 hospitals have been equipped with services for voluntary HIV testing and counseling, as well as the means to prevent mother-to-child HIV transmission (IRIN News, 3/6).

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