US $25 million to treat HIV/AIDS


BANGUI, 24 Aug 2004 (PLUSNEWS) - HIV/AIDS patients in the Central African Republic (CAR) are to receive antiretroviral (ARV) treatment at affordable prices for the next five years thanks to a US $25 million grant from the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Malaria and Tuberculosis.

The majority of poor HIV/AIDS patients will receive ARVs free-of-charge; low income earners would pay $4 a month, the health minister, Nestor-Mamadou Nali, said during the programme's launch on Monday in the CAR capital, Bangui.

"This is keeping in line with the Bamako [African health care] Initiative which stresses community participation and low cost-sharing," Nali told PlusNews.

He added that ARVs would not only improve life expectancy of HIV/AIDS patients but also help encourage voluntary HIV screening as a preventive strategy. According to CAR government statistics, 15 percent of the population is currently affected.

The Global Fund approved the five-year programme for the CAR in April. Eight centres for voluntary and anonymous HIV/AIDs screening have since been built across the country. The programme also provides for psychological care to HIV infected people.

Most people in the CAR have not been able to afford treatment. Even civil servants infected with HIV cannot pay the $32 per month necessary for the drugs because the government has not paid workers for the last six months.


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