S. Africa To Release Plan To Provide AIDS Drugs Soon; Program May Face Challenges Convincing People To Take Drugs
The South African government "within weeks" is expected to publish details of a national program to provide antiretroviral drugs to HIV-positive people, according to Joel Netshitenzhe, an adviser to South African President Thabo Mbeki, the Economist reports (Economist, 11/1). The government on Aug. 8 called for the Ministry of Health to develop the national program and a special task team on Sept. 30 presented to the health minister a draft plan of the program (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 10/7). The South African treasury and donors have made more money available for the program, and the cost of providing the drugs has dropped. However, "drugs alone will not beat" AIDS, according to the Economist; the program will take months to expand from its current 18 experimental sites and may face challenges in convincing people to use the drugs. "We need to see cabinet ministers on TV talking about safe sex, telling people to get tested and treated," Nathan Geffen, spokesperson for the South African AIDS group Treatment Action Campaign, said. However, public discussion of the epidemic is "unlikely"; Mbeki rarely mentions AIDS because he has said that "candid talk" about the disease encourages prejudice against African people, according to the Economist. In addition, other ministers refuse to admit knowing any HIV-positive people, the Economist reports (Economist, 11/1).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.