Island state wakes up to HIV/AIDS

SAO TOME AND PRINCIPE: Island state wakes up to HIV/AIDS

JOHANNESBURG , 21 Dec 2004 (PLUSNEWS) - Some of the funds from a new World Bank US $6.5 million aid package will be used to step up HIV/AIDS efforts in the small twin-island state of Sao Tome and Principe.

According to the UN news service, PlusNews, the World Health Organisation (WHO) will be helping the government to introduce antiretroviral (ARV) drugs in this tiny country, where an estimated 3,000 people are HIV-positive.

The main hospital in Sao Tome, the capital, has an HIV testing and counselling centre and WHO is helping the government to launch ARV treatment for an initial group of about two dozen people.

With low condom usage and more than half the population living on less than one dollar a day, health officials fear an explosion of HIV/AIDS when oil exploration starts in early 2005, unless urgent measures are taken to curb the spread of the pandemic.

The last HIV/AIDS survey was undertaken in 2000 and indicated a prevalence rate of just one percent, but WHO and the UN Development Programme (UNDP) are due to conduct a new HIV/AIDS survey in 2005.


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