Botswana’s ‘Massive’ HIV/AIDS Prevention, Testing, Treatment Programs Provide ‘Flicker of Hope’ in Epidemic, Editorial Says
Botswana's "massive" HIV/AIDS prevention, testing and treatment programs provide a "flicker of hope" in fighting the disease in sub-Saharan Africa, which is a "vast landscape of misery" because of the epidemic, a Chicago Tribune editorial says. Since his election in 1998, Botswana President Festus Mogae has become a "prominent voice" in battling HIV/AIDS, launching prevention and education campaigns that stress abstinence, monogamy and condom use (Chicago Tribune, 6/19). Mogae in October 2003 announced a new initiative to provide HIV tests as part of routine medical checkups in public and private clinics. More than 35% of the adult population of Botswana is HIV-positive, but less than 8% of Botswana's population of 1.6 million knows their HIV status (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 2/18). However, the number of people tested for HIV in Botswana has quadrupled in the past six months because of the initiative, according to the editorial. In addition, Botswana's government aims to provide antiretroviral drugs to HIV-positive people and hopes to distribute the drugs to all who need them by 2009 -- which is the "next lin[k] in a successful strategy against AIDS" -- the editorial says. Mogae's "vision and guts" are helping Botswana "mak[e] sure" that funding for HIV/AIDS is not a "waste," the editorial concludes (Chicago Tribune, 6/19).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.