Southern Africa: churches call for cheaper AIDS drugs

 The Southern African Catholic Bishops Conference (SACBC) has appealed for the provision of cheaper antiretroviral drugs for HI -positive people. In a statement issued today, the AIDS office of the SABC said: "supports the cause of the National Association of People living with AIDS (NAPWA) in the calling of government and pharmaceutical companies to provide cheaper generic antiretrovirals to all people living with AIDS." It said: "Pharmaceutical companies, cannot continue to hold the government and private individuals to ransom on the costs of AIDS medication." Quoting the United Nations AIDS Summit (UNAIDS) 2002 Report on the Global HIV/AIDS Epidemic, the statement said: "the price of combination antiretrovirals has dropped significantly in certain countries where generic drugs and the broad application of differential pricing for AIDS drugs, based on country need and ability to pay. The Southern African region has the highest prevalence rate of HIV/AIDS, some countries reaching as high as 40%." "The South African Catholic Bishops, Conference AIDS Office re-iterates the call made in the past, we call on the governments and pharmaceutical companies of the SADC region to speed up the implementation of clear and effective HIV/AIDS treatment strategies; and produce generics for free or subsidized distribution," the statement said. The SACBC runs extensive programmes across the region which care for people affected by HIV/AIDS. Source: Catholic Information Service of Africa

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