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Access to antiretroviral treatment in Africa

BMJ 2004; 328 doi: (Published 29 January 2004) Cite this as: BMJ 2004;328:241
  1. Rene Loewenson, director (,
  2. David McCoy
  1. Training and Research Support Centre
  2. EQUINET, 47 Van Praagh Avenue, Milton Park, Harare, Zimbabwe

    New resources and sustainable health systems are needed

    The demand for people living with HIV and AIDS in Africa to access treatment cannot be ignored. At the same time the challenges to meeting this demand are many. They include the shortfalls in health services and lack of knowledge about treatment, making decisions about newer regimens, and the risk of resistance to antiretrovirals highlighted in the paper by Stevens et al (p 280). 1 2

    The challenges also include ensuring uninterrupted drug supplies, laboratory capacities for CD4 monitoring, accessible voluntary counselling and testing, trained healthcare workers, and effective monitoring of resistance to antiretroviral drugs.3 A series of papers produced in 2003 through the southern African regional network on equity in health raised further concerns about measures to ensure fairness in the rationing of scarce treatment resources and the diversion of scarce resources from strained public health services into vertical treatment programmes.48

    The reasons for these challenges are not a mystery. They …

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