Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations
Botswana ‘Turns to Drugs’ as Weapons of Choice to Fight HIV/AIDS
Botswana has mounted the "most aggressive awareness campaign" against HIV/AIDS in Southern Africa, but health officials believe that antiretroviral drugs will prove to be the country's strongest weapons in the fight against HIV/AIDS, Canada's National Post reports. Botswana, which has the highest HIV infection rate in the world, has dispatched educators to travel the country teaching about HIV/AIDS prevention. Meanwhile, newspapers and radio stations are broadcasting numerous discussions and ads calling for AIDS awareness, and the country's health minister "made a public show of getting tested" for the virus. However, these efforts have "not curbed the rate of HIV infection" in Botswana, and the country has "turned to drug distribution" to ease the problem (Schuler, National Post, 7/3). In March, Botswanan President Festus Mogae announced that the country plans to implement a program to distribute antiretroviral drugs to "all who need (them)" and will foot a "substantial" part of the program's bill (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 3/15). Stephen Lewis, the U.N. special envoy on AIDS in Africa, said that if the program is successful, "it will provide momentum and encouragement to all the afflicted countries in Africa and beyond. It will give heart to absolutely every country worldwide." Lewis has mentioned sending nurses, health workers, technicians and teachers to "help the country along." The Post reports that antiretrovirals "may be the best chance yet to break the cycle of transmission," partly because they will encourage more people to be tested for the virus in order to obtain the treatment. But other developing nations may not be able to follow Botswana's lead. Botswana does not have the problems of war, famine, "corruption" and "massive" debt burden that plague other African countries, and its health system is superior to those of most other African nations (National Post, 7/3).
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