[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United
GABORONE, 9 March (PLUSNEWS) - Botswana's anti-AIDS efforts are
to receive an injection of US $35 million from the US President's
Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).
The funds, to be channelled through the Botswana and USA
partnership (BOTUSA), will be used to provide critical technical
and financial support for HIV testing, prevention of
mother-to-child HIV transmission, antiretroviral treatment,
palliative care and support for people living with HIV/AIDS, said
Gregory Kelebonye, BOTUSA's communication officer.
The PEPFAR programme was initiated by US President George W. Bush
in 2003, when he pledged $15 billion for tackling HIV/AIDS around
"Botswana is one of the 15 countries that are getting funds under
the US President Emergency Plan, and we are closely working with
the US embassy in the country to plan, implement and coordinate
the initiative," said Kelebonye.
As part of the project, BOTUSA is currently working with a local
scientific reference group to prepare for the clinical trials of
microcides that women can apply before having sexual intercourse
to prevent transmission of HIV and other sexual infections.
"We are also in the process of initiating a controlled clinical
trial to determine whether taking Tenofovir, an antiretroviral
drug, could prevent HIV infection in healthy, HIV negative,
sexually active young people," Kelebonye said.
The drug is said to stop HIV infected cells from replicating.
Kelebonye said Tenofovir would be tested on 1,200 volunteers aged
between 18 and 21 years over a period of three years.
The BOTUSA programme was initiated in 1995 as a partnership
between the Botswana National TB Programme and the Centres for
Disease Control, run by the US department of health and human
services. It conducts public health research and programmes
combating tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS.
Clincial trials of Tenofovir were scrapped in Cambodia and
Cameroon following ethical concerns over how the trials were
being conducted. AIDS activists in Cameroon and France alleged
that the female volunteers taking part had not been sufficiently
informed of the risks involved, and would not receive any
healthcare if they become infected with HIV during the course of