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CDC HIV/AIDS/Viral Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update
Use What You Have
Schoofs, Mark
January 19, 2000
Village Voice (01/04/00) Vol. 44, No. 52, P. 53

In Uganda, a country with one of the only working AIDS programs in Africa, about 10 percent of the nation's adults are infected with HIV. However, even this country with doctors and prevention programs does not have the resources to buy antiretroviral drugs that slow AIDS death rates. A pilot project in Uganda sells HIV drugs at discounted prices, but it provides drugs for less than 1 percent of the infected population. The needs for anti-AIDS drugs often comes second to basic living needs, such as food, water, and shelter. Many Ugandan AIDS patients go hungry for days at a time, and they are put at risk for other diseases like worms and dysentery. Food is considered the most important need by many patients, and meat and dairy products are yearly treats. Dr. Elly Katabira founded the AIDS clinic at Uganda's Mulago Hospital. He has developed medical treatments for thrush and skin rashes that save money and help reassure the sick. He explains that cytomegalovirus, pneumonia, and meningitis continue to plague AIDS patients there, as even those infections are too expensive to treat with well-established drug regimens. Lack of money forces many patients off antiretroviral drugs that are funded in part through UNAIDS programs. Statistics show that only 852 of Uganda's 930,000 people with HIV are obtaining antiretroviral drugs through UNAIDS, and most of those patients are taking only AZT and 3TC.