Botswana ‘On Verge’ of Treating All HIV-Positive People in Need of Antiretroviral Drugs, Opinion Piece Says
Botswana is "miraculously conquering despair" and is "on the verge of being the first African nation to do what not long ago seemed impossible: treating all those in need," Roger Bate, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and director of Africa Fighting Malaria, and Lorraine Mooney, a medical demographer and director of the European Science and Environment Forum, write in a Tech Central Station opinion piece. The country's "strong sense of civic responsibility" has prevented it from "having its wealth" -- largely from diamond mines -- "squandered or stolen by a self-serving elite," Bate and Mooney say, adding that Botswana's government "enacted its own AIDS program ... in 2000 putting up its own money ... and designing the program to suit its own needs." Other foundations and partnerships have supported the program, which "seems the perfect model: international expertise, capacity and goodwill are being used to maximum benefit by a government which took the first initiative," Bate and Mooney say. The program in January began routine HIV testing of anyone who visits a hospital or clinic -- unless they refuse -- which will help bring more people into treatment if they test positive and help in the collection of more accurate HIV data, Bate and Mooney say. In both Kenya and South Africa, recent data have shown that UNAIDS' estimates of HIV prevalence in those countries might be high, according to Bate and Mooney. If HIV prevalence in Botswana has been "overestimated to the same extent as [it was] in Kenya (i.e. by 100%), it is possible that by meeting current treatment targets by the end of the year, all those in need will be under treatment," Bate and Mooney say, concluding, "[T]hat would be a miracle indeed" (Bate/Mooney, Tech Central Station, 8/5).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.