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AFRICA: US firm offers cheaper test kits

JOHANNESBURG, 24 July 2001 (PlusNews) - A US pharmaceutical company, CALCOL Inc, has announced that it would immediately begin to make, sell, and distribute cheap HIV/AIDS Test Kits on a large scale for areas which have been worst hit by HIV/AIDS, reported ‘Marketletter’ on Tuesday. The Quick Aids Test Kits are currently sold in Kenya, Nigeria and some South American companies. The company announced that the initiative to mass market the low cost test kits was prompted by recent efforts by major international organisations and corporations to help raise US $7-10 billion per year for the global health fund sponsored by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan. The firm has submitted proposals for test production to the United Nations and UNAIDS, the Global Business Council, and Coca Cola Co. which have all pledged large sums to battle the virus globally. CALCOL said it was aiming at a price of US $1.95 per unit to international agencies. Earlier this month, the irregular and limited accessibility of HIV test kits in Zambia forced the Churches Medical Association of Zambia (CMAZ) to recommend that its members institute a prioritisation scheme. The CMAZ advised members that in order to maximise the use of HIV testing, HIV test kits should be distributed preferentially to hospitals and not to health centres when test kits are in short supply. A CMAZ spokesperson told IRIN on Tuesday that the current price of a test kit in Zambia was about US $3 per test and they would welcome any test kits that were cheaper, provided they met with international standards.

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