Ethiopia Launches Multisectoral HIV/AIDS Plan
Ethiopia has launched a multisectoral HIV/AIDS plan that aims to provide universal access to no-cost antiretroviral drugs by 2010, Meskele Lera, deputy director of the country's HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control Office, said on Thursday, AFP/Inquirer.net reports. According to Lera, additional measures -- including the promotion of condom use, and increased testing and awareness -- also will be included in the plan. "One hundred percent of the people in need will have free access to treatment by 2010," Lera said, adding, "It is an ambitious target, but a necessary one. The Ethiopian government is committed to ensure universal and free access to treatment to all in need." Although antiretrovirals have been available at no cost in Ethiopia since 2005, not all people who need the drugs have been able to access them, according to AFP/Inquirer.net. The number of people with access to antiretrovirals under the plan will increase from 140,000 at the end of 2007 to 397,000 in 2010.
Lera also said that a primary goal of the plan is to prevent new HIV cases, which will require "deep social transformations." Under the plan, the HIV/AIDS office aims to increase condom use among people ages 15 to 49 from 10% in 2007 to 60% by 2010. The plan also has an HIV testing and counseling target of 9.27 million people by 2010. About 80% of HIV-positive pregnant women under the plan will receive services to prevent mother-to-child transmission by 2010. In addition, the country aims to establish an increased number of HIV/AIDS care and support centers, as well as local awareness programs with centers in all schools. Efforts to provide universal access to basic health care will begin this year, according to the plan.
The government estimates that about 1.5 million people in Ethiopia are living with HIV, but the World Health Organization's figure is about 2.8 million people (AFP/Inquirer.net, 1/17).