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U.S. Assistance to Africa Cut AIDS-Related Deaths: Study

TUESDAY, May 15 (HealthDay News) -- The lives of more than 740,000 people in nine African countries were saved between 2004 and 2008 by the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, a new study indicates.

The program reduced adults' risk of death from all causes by 16 percent to 20 percent during those four years, Stanford University School of Medicine researchers found. The researchers said this is the first study to show a decline in all-cause deaths related to the program.

"We were surprised and impressed to find these mortality reductions," study author Dr. Eran Bendavid, an assistant professor of medicine at Stanford, said in a university news release.

"While many assume that foreign aid works, most evaluations of aid suggest it does not work or even causes harm," Bendavid said. "Despite all the challenges to making aid work and to implementing HIV treatment in Africa, the benefits of the [President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief] were large and measurable across many African countries."

The program was launched in 2003 while President George W. Bush was in office with a focus on AIDS treatment and prevention in 15 countries. It was reauthorized by Congress in 2008 and now serves 31 countries.

To assess the impact of the program, Bendavid and colleagues analyzed health and survival data from more than 1.5 million adults in 27 African countries, including nine countries where the program has focused its efforts.

The study appears in the May 16 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

More information

Here's where you can learn more about the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: Stanford University, news release, May 15, 2012

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