South African Cabinet To Discuss National Antiretroviral Program; Western Cape To Begin Provincial Program
The South African cabinet this week is expected to discuss the results of a national cost study on the universal provision of antiretroviral drugs in anticipation of a June 14 meeting of the AIDS advocacy group Treatment Action Campaign and the South African National AIDS Council, PlusNews reports (PlusNews, 6/10). The report says that the per-person cost of an antiretroviral drug program for each year of life saved would be approximately $1,100 but predicts that the cost would fall "sharply" after a few years, making it "feasible" for the government to launch a program to deliver antiretrovirals to HIV-positive people throughout the country (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 5/13). The Western Cape, the first province in South Africa to defy government policy by providing AIDS drugs to HIV-positive pregnant women, has announced that it plans to begin to implement its own program, despite the fact that a national antiretroviral campaign is "relatively close," according to PlusNews. The program will build on the province's existing Prevent Mother-to-Child Transmission program, which provides nevirapine to HIV-positive pregnant women in the region. The first step of the program will be implementing the PMTCT "Plus" program, under which family members of the women enrolled in the program and the women themselves would receive free antiretroviral drugs, care and support services. The Western Cape estimates it will be providing treatment for 30,000 HIV-positive people in the region by 2010 (PlusNews, 6/10).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.