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 Wednesday 03 October 2007
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SOUTH AFRICA: PEPFAR scores well on AIDS treatment

Photo: The White House
President George Bush in Botswana
JOHANNESBURG, 14 March 2007 (PlusNews) - The President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), a multibillion-dollar US effort to tackle HIV/AIDS in Africa and the Caribbean, is making strides, but its future sustainability is an underlying concern for recipients.

The initiative, launched three years ago with the goal of providing prevention, treatment and care to 19 million people living with HIV, was "well on its way to reaching those goals", a new report by the US Government Accountability Office said on Tuesday.

In countries like South Africa, which has been hard-hit by the pandemic and where patients often did not make it to the end of long government waiting lists for antiretroviral (ARV) drugs, PEPFAR had managed to make a notable impact, with an estimated 210,300 individuals now accessing anti-AIDS medication.

However, Dr Charles Muzamhindo, a Johannesburg-based specialist physician who has placed hundreds of patients on ARVs through the PEPFAR programme, told PlusNews, "While the intervention is a life-line for many people, there are scores more in urgent need of drugs but who are still unable to get them, not here or even at the government sites.

He has reached his PEPFAR quotient of 800 patients and was not able to enrol any more, "at least not without additional funding", but over 5.4 million South Africans were living with HIV by mid-2006, and only 24 percent of those at an advanced stage of illness were getting the treatment they needed, according to the Actuarial Society of South Africa.

"But considering the impact of the disease in developing nations, as well as the treatment disparities ... it's evident why PEPFAR's presence is welcomed, not just here [in South Africa], but across the continent as well," Muzamhindo added.

PEPFAR has partnered with host nations for the past three years to provide treatment to approximately 822,000 people in the 15 focus nations, as well as 165,100 people elsewhere in the developing world, reaching a total of 987,100 people worldwide.

Allaying fears of PEPFAR's future sustainability, Mark Dybul, the US Global AIDS Coordinator, said in a statement: "Despite the daunting challenges ahead, the United States will remain a partner with host nations in this fight."

Dybul urged the Americans to continue to stand with their "global sisters and brothers" in their attempt to take control of the pandemic.

Access the full PEPFAR report:
Access the PEPFAR South Africa profile for 2007:
Also read more about donor accountability:

Theme(s): (IRIN) Gender Issues


[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]
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