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U.N. official blasts So. Africa's AIDS efforts
2005-12-01

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The United Nations' special envoy to Africa on HIV/AIDS, Stephen Lewis, says South Africa still isn't getting anti-HIV drugs to enough of its citizens, Johannesburg's Business Day reported Oct. 26.

'I have great respect for SA's increase in funding, but what I have taken exception to is the slow rollout of treatment—the situation is too dire ... to be proceeding so slowly,' Lewis said.

'The ambiguity and hesitation ... expressed by [ Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang ] and others about the appropriateness of antiretrovirals, the possibility of looking for alternatives, and giving a platform to professional denialists [ who claim HIV doesn't cause AIDS ] has cast a pall over the energy that would otherwise be released.'

About 837,000 of South Africa's 6.3 million HIV-positive citizens need to be on antiretrovirals right now, Lewis said, but only 78,000 are getting them from the government. Another 60,000 people are thought to be accessing treatment via private health care.

South Africa has a population of 47 million.


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