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September 19, 2007

More Free Meds for Africa

The African countries of Nigeria and Malawi have both stepped up their commitments to provide free antiretroviral meds to their citizens. Some 14 percent of Malawi’s 12 million citizens live with HIV; the country has just announced that it has begun providing free antiretroviral therapy to 20,000 infected children. It is estimated that since 2004, 30,000 children have contracted the virus each year, most commonly from their mothers during perinatal transmission.

Malawi has also increased its med delivery and treatment centers:  from 36 in 2004 to 144 today. A free HIV drug distribution program launched in 2004 now serves approximately 110,000 adults.

Meanwhile, in Nigeria, the number of HIV treatment centers, which provide free medication to the country’s 3 million people living with HIV, has tripled. However, reports indicate that only 10 percent of Nigerians in need of antiretroviral therapy actually receive  it.

In May, Nigeria received $50 million in additional funding from the World Bank—part of an original $90 million credit approved in 2001 to fight the pandemic. Nigeria has also signed a deal with former U.S. President Bill Clinton’s AIDS charity, the William J. Clinton Foundation, to produce cheaper antiretroviral medications.

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