South Africa's top tourism group on Friday launched a new "AIDS insurance" policy to provide potentially life-saving drugs to travelers who might become infected while on holiday. Southern Africa Tourism Services Association CEO Gail McCann said the policy is being offered to group members who want to protect their clients and to prolong the lives of HIV-infected staff. "People coming to South Africa are a little nervous from an AIDS perspective. This might help," said McCann.
The insurance will pay for and deliver antiretroviral drugs so treatment can begin within a 72-hour window after exposure, which doctors say may prevent infection from taking hold. South Africa currently does not provide antiretroviral drugs in public sector hospitals -- a policy critics say is causing the AIDS deaths of some 600 people every day.
"If you get to a game lodge and you have a risk exposure, they would be aware of who to contact," said Charles Parsons, CEO of Caliber Clinical Consultants, the AIDS services company handling the insurance policy.
While SATSA -- which represents more than 800 tourism-related companies including such giants as South African Airways -- hopes the "AIDS insurance" may calm nervous travelers, they say one of the key aims of the program is to give tourism company employees greater access to HIV treatment. McCann said the policy would be extended to employees at a cost of as little as 3.50 rand (US43 cents) per month. "It won't save their lives but it will prolong their lives," McCann said. "AIDS is a reality in South Africa ... a lot of money is being spent and being lost on retraining our staff because they are dying from AIDS," said McCann.
Back to other CDC news for June 10, 2003