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AFRICA: IRIN PlusNews HIV/AIDS Briefs, 8 August 2001

Johannesburg, 8 August 2001 (PlusNews) - AFRICA: IRIN PlusNews HIV/AIDS Briefs, 8 August 2001 ETHIOPIA: Government strikes deal to import discounted AIDS drugs SOUTH AFRICA: Pilot project encourages people to take HIV tests ETHIOPIA: Government strikes deal to import discounted AIDS drugs Ethiopia’s health ministry announced that it has concluded an agreement with unnamed international pharmaceutical companies to import 10 antiretroviral drugs at discounted prices, the Associated Press reported on Wednesday. Health department spokesperson, Ahmed Emanu, told IRIN on Wednesday that he could not reveal the companies, drugs or prices settled on in the deal, but Emanu is reported as saying that the “only condition attached” by the companies was that Ethiopia must establish a “strict control mechanism to ensure that the drugs are not passed to third countries.” He added that plans for importing the drugs were already underway. Secretary-General of the National HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control Council Dr Dagnachew Haile Mariam said that the government now needs to “equip laboratories and train health workers” to ensure that the drugs are properly administered. Over the weekend thousands of demonstrators took to the streets of Addis Ababa calling on the government to waive any duties or taxes on AIDS drugs. Ahmed said their request was “under consideration,” but added that no final decision had been made. SOUTH AFRICA: Pilot project encourages people to take HIV tests A two-year pilot project in South Africa aimed at encouraging hospital and clinic patients to go for HIV tests has managed to almost triple demand at the four test sites, reported ‘Health-e News’ on Monday. The country’s Health Department was reported as saying that the number of people tested at the pilot sites in four provinces increased from 1,703 to 4,963 per quarter. Of the 17,826 people who were tested in the two year period which ended last month, 6,398 were HIV-positive. The pilot projects also introduced rapid HIV tests. Before the use of rapid tests, only about 10 percent of people went back to get their HIV test results. However, with the rapid HIV tests, which take about 15 minutes to process, over 97 percent of people tested got their results Two of the clinics on the pilot project used lay counsellors to explain the importance of people knowing their HIV status, and these clinics managed to increase the proportion of people asking to be tested from less than 10 percent to over 60 percent. Dr Laura Campbell who co-ordinated the pilot in a clinic in KwaZulu Natal, was quoted as saying: “We would recommend that lay counsellors are introduced to clinics, particularly those that are offering mother-to-child treatment programmes. It is unfair to rely on nurses to counsel people, as they simply don’t have the time.” The pilots were part of a global initiative sponsored by WHO and UNAIDS called ProTest, aimed at promoting voluntary HIV counselling and testing and improving TB and HIV care.

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