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Researchers estimate lives lost due to delay in antiretroviral drug use for HIV/AIDS in South Africa
Date:10/20/2008

f donated nevirapine and blocked funds for more than a year from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria awarded to the South African province KwaZulu Natal, the authors recount. President Mbeki formally resigned in September 2008.

The authors estimated the lost benefits of ARV drug use for two groups: AIDS patients and children born to HIV-infected mothers. The research team framed those lost benefits as "person-years," meaning the number of years of life lost due to premature death from HIV/AIDS. The team chose a limited time period for examination to estimate only the ARV benefits already lost and to avoid speculation about the future direction of ARV policies in South Africa.

For background, the pharmaceutical company Boehringer Ingelheim announced in July 2000 that it would offer nevirapine free of charge for five years for the prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV-1 in developing economies. South Africa restricted the availability of nevirapine to two pilot sites per province until December 2002, said Dr. Chigwedere. The country's government launched a national program for the prevention of mother-to-child transmission in August 2003 and a national ARV treatment program in 2004. By 2005, the authors estimated, there was 23% ARV treatment coverage and less than 30% prevention of mother-to-child transmission coverage in South Africa. By comparison, neighboring Botswana began a program for the prevention of mother-to-child transmission in 1999 and a national ARV treatment program in 2001. Using WHO "3x5" initiative data, the authors estimated that there was 85% ARV treatment coverage in Botswana and 71% in Namibia by 2005. Both Botswana and Namibia achieved >70% prevention of mother-to-child transmission coverage by 2005.

To estimate the lost benefits, the research team compared the actual number of persons who received ARVs for treatment or for prevention of mother-to-child transmission between 2000 and 2
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Contact: Christina Roache
croache@hsph.harvard.edu
617-432-6052
Harvard School of Public Health
Source:Eurekalert

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