International aid group to begin administering AIDS drugs to small group of poor South Africans

International medical aid agency Medecins Sans Frontieres on Friday began providing triple drug antiretroviral therapy to a small group of poor South Africans, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The program, independently financed and run by the group in Khayelitsha township outside Cape Town, will “assess the feasibility of providing antiretroviral therapy in a poor township from primary health-care centres run by local government.” The South African government has been reluctant to provide the drugs to its citizens, saying that they are “too expensive and too complex to administer.” Toby Kasper, coordinator of MSF’s Access to Essential Medicines Campaign, said, “Given the heated political context, we will be monitoring the project carefully.”

HIV-positive pregnant women in Khayelitsha township have to date been the only poor South Africans with access to the drugs, which have been used to reduce the risk of HIV transmission to their infants (Wall Street Journal, 29/05).

Source: Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Reports

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