Few HIV-Positive People Receiving Antiretrovirals in Mozambique Despite No-Cost Treatment Program, Health Minister Says
Few HIV-positive people in Mozambique are coming forward to receive no-cost antiretroviral drugs despite a government program that provides access to the medications, Mozambican Health Minister Ivo Garrido said recently at a news conference, Reuters reports.
Garrido added that people are not receiving antiretrovirals because they are unable to access clinics or do not realize they are living with HIV/AIDS. Garrido said that the government will launch a radio and television campaign to encourage more people to be tested for HIV and will boost HIV awareness campaigns in schools. "We have the capacity to supply [antiretrovirals] to anyone carrying the virus, but we have to convince people to take the test; otherwise it will be very difficult to change the situation," Garrido said. In addition, there are plans to build a factory to produce antiretrovirals in the country, according to Reuters.
As of the end of April, 101,198 Mozambicans were receiving antiretrovirals -- more than one-quarter of whom were living in the country's capital of Maputo -- according to the Ministry of Health. Although the government has implemented HIV prevention programs in hospitals and schools, critics have argued that the programs are sporadic and confined to Maputo.
More than 16% of Mozambicans ages 14 to 49 are living with HIV/AIDS, and an estimated 500 new cases occur daily, Reuters reports (Mangwiro, Reuters, 6/8).