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HIV/AIDS Patients to Pressure Govt, Business On Treatment Promises


WOZA (Johannesburg) - May 25, 2001

HIV/AIDS patients will put more pressure on government and the private sector to deliver on their promises, says National Association for People living with HIV/AIDS (Napwa) president Mkululeko Nxesi.

"Since the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers' Association dropped its court case against government in April, nothing has happened," Nxesi told iClinic.

He was speaking to iClinic about Napwa's first national congress, opening near Johannesburg on Friday. Deputy President Jacob Zuma is expected to deliver the keynote address on Friday night. The congress is expected to end with a formal resolution on Sunday.

He says that patients are still in the dark as to where to get the free nevirapine treatment promised by government in January, and HIV/AIDS drugs are still as expensive as ever.

He says it is unfair that Minister of Health Manto Tshabalala-Msimang is waiting for Cabinet approval of the health department's Mother-to-Child-Transmission of HIV (MTCT) programme before implementing it.

The Wait for Treatment is Still On For most HIV-positive pregnant women, the wait is still on for cabinet approval, training of healthcare workers and distribution of the drug - donated for free by Boehringer Ingelheim and approved for MTCT use by the Medicines Control Council in January - to the facilities, a source close to the minister of health told iClinic on Tuesday.

The Western Cape and a few pilot sites funded by academic institutions are the only places now where pregnant women can get the drug that could prevent the transmission of the HI-virus to their unborn babies in half of the cases. An estimated 5 000 HIV-positive babies are born every month in South Africa.

Provision of the drug is seen as a gauge of the government's commitment to fight AIDS, which already infects one in nine South Africans and threatens to kill up to seven million within a decade.

Malawi has joined several other African countries in signing a deal with Boehringer Ingelheim to provide free nevirapine to HIV-infected pregnant women.

The women will begin to receive treatment from November, the Malawian government says.

The company hasn't confirmed the deal but has signed an agreement with several countries including Gabon and Senegal to provide the free treatment. NAPWA To Increase Political Pressure The main objective of Napwa's congress - attended by 500 delegates, including NGO representatives from the US and Zimbabwe - is to review existing strategies by Napwa and others to assist people living with HIV/AIDS, as well as to plan the way forward.

"I do not want to preempt the resolution of our Congress, but I expect we will certainly come up with a programme to ensure that all roleplayers in the country will begin to experience increasing pressure to do their bit for people living with HIV/AIDS," Nxesi told iClinic, adding that the focus on treatment and care of patients will be especially strong.


Copyright © 2001 -Social Security Office, Publisher. All rights reserved to AIDS & Public PolicyJournal. Reproduction of this article (other than one copy for personal reference) must be cleared through the APPJ Permissions Desk.

Information in this article was accurate in May 25, 2001. The state of the art may have changed since the publication date. This material is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between you and your doctor. Always discuss treatment options with a doctor who specializes in treating HIV.