Lack of Antiretroviral Drugs Hinders Success of HIV/AIDS Treatment Programs in Africa
A lack of antiretroviral drugs is the "biggest" problem facing HIV/AIDS treatment programs in Africa, according to Robert Colebunders, a Belgian researcher at Uganda's Infectious Disease Institute at Mulago Hospital in Kampala, the Chicago Tribune reports. According to the United Nations, there are about 28 million HIV-positive people in Africa but only 4% of people who need antiretrovirals are receiving them. Uganda reduced its HIV prevalence from 18% in 1992 to 6% today, but in "war-torn" northern Uganda, HIV prevalence has reached 12.5% and there is a lack of antiretrovirals in the region, according to David Ogwang, the administrator of Lacor Hospital in Uganda. Although Uganda has been successful in lowering its HIV prevalence, 75% of the 20,000 HIV-positive individuals taking antiretrovirals in the country pay for their own drugs rather than receiving government support, according to the Tribune. The Ugandan government, with assistance from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, hopes to provide antiretrovirals at no cost for 60,000 people, but that effort will provide treatment for only half of the people who need the drugs, according to the Tribune. Botswana is the only African country to offer "large-scale" government-funded antiretroviral treatment, the Tribune reports. In South Africa, 15,000 of the country's four million HIV-positive people are receiving treatment through government programs, although the government has promised to provide antiretrovirals to more people (Goering, Chicago Tribune, 11/21).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.