U.S. To Provide Zimbabwe With $18M for Antiretrovirals, HIV Tests
U.S. Ambassador to Zimbabwe Christopher Dell and Zimbabwe Health and Child Welfare Minister David Parirenyatwa in a joint announcement on Thursday said that the U.S. will provide the country with $18 million over three years for antiretroviral drugs and rapid HIV testing kits, Reuters reports (Reuters, 6/7).
According to Parirenyatwa, Zimbabwe plans to provide 40,000 additional HIV-positive people with access to no-cost antiretrovirals by the end of the year. At least 300,000 people living with HIV/AIDS are in need of antiretrovirals, Parirenyatwa said. The country's efforts to increase access to antiretrovirals have been delayed by a shortage of foreign currency, which has increased poverty levels and raised inflation by 3,700%. More than 3,000 people die of AIDS-related illnesses weekly, and 70% of hospital admissions in Zimbabwe are HIV/AIDS-related (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 5/31).
According to Dell and Parirenyatwa, $15 million will be allocated during the next three years to provide no-cost antiretroviral access to 40,000 people, while $3 million will be used to purchase rapid HIV testing kits. "This initial program is for three years, and we hope that during that time, other donors" -- including the Global Fund To Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria -- "will be in a position to provide additional support," Dell said (Reuters, 6/7).
Parirenyatwa said that there is a "huge gap" between the number of people who need treatment access and those who receive it. He added that the gap "needs to be filled" (AFP/Yahoo! News, 6/7).