Zambian Government Implements Criteria for Distribution of Free Antiretroviral Drugs
The Zambian government has instituted criteria to determine which of the country's 200,000 HIV/AIDS patients will have access to free antiretroviral drug treatment, Xinhua News Agency reports. Under the new guidelines, HIV-positive people wishing to access the drugs must undergo voluntary HIV testing and counseling as well as a clinical test to determine their viral load. HIV-positive individuals with higher levels of immunity will not receive the drugs but will instead receive nutrition counseling. The guidelines also would allow women who receive antiretroviral treatment to prevent mother-to-child HIV transmission to continue to receive antiretroviral drugs after delivery. The criteria were implemented after many people voiced concerns that the drugs would be made available only to "privileged people," according to Xinhua News Agency. Zambian Health Minister Brian Chituwo said that the new criteria "will ensure that people get these drugs on the first come first serve basis." Despite the announcement of the new criteria, Chituwo said that the Zambian government is "still open to suggestions from other stakeholders" on how best to make free antiretroviral drugs available in the country, according to Xinhua News Agency (Xinhua News Agency, 8/20).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.