Antiretroviral Drug Prices in Zimbabwe Increase Over Last Three Months, Survey Says
The price of antiretroviral drugs in Zimbabwe has increased by 50% to 65% over the last three months, according to a survey released Tuesday by the National AIDS Council, Xinhua News Agency reports (Xinhua News Agency, 9/26). The price for a month's supply of imported antiretrovirals sold at pharmacies increased from about $40 to $50 in July and then to $66 in August, the survey says. The cost of locally manufactured antiretrovirals rose from $40 in July to $62 in August; on Friday the price of the drugs again rose from $83 to $103, according to the survey. Locally manufactured drugs can cost more than imported ones because of the high cost of raw materials locally, according to the Herald. About 600,000 HIV-positive people in Zimbabwe need antiretroviral treatment, and the government's treatment program covers about 42,000 people. NAC has devised a strategic plan to increase the availability of antiretrovirals, the Herald reports (Herald, 9/26).
HIV/AIDS Advocates Question Cause of Reduced HIV Prevalence
In related news, HIV/AIDS advocates have questioned what caused the decrease in adult HIV prevalence in Zimbabwe and warn that efforts must be made to sustain the trend, IRIN News reports (IRIN News, 9/25). According to the Zimbabwe Demographic Health Survey of 2005-2006, adult HIV prevalence in Zimbabwe since 2004 has fallen from 20.1% to 18.1% (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 9/8). Karen Stanecki, a senior adviser for UNAIDS' epidemiology monitoring group, said there was evidence that the reduction was caused by high mortality and by behavior change, including fewer sexual partners and increased condom use. Owen Mugurungi, head of the Zimbabwean government's HIV/AIDS unit, at a recent conference on the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief said that further investigations showed that the decreased prevalence could not have been caused by mortality rates alone and that fewer people have contracted HIV. There also is speculation that HIV prevalence might appear lower because large numbers of people are leaving the country, according to IRIN News. "If it (decline in prevalence) can be attributed to behavior change, we need to find out what behavior change took place and why, so we can capitalize on this and see what works and what doesn't," Lindiwe Chaza, director of Zimbabwe's AIDS Network, said, adding, "But we have to move fast before more damage is done" (IRIN News, 9/25).