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Saturday, August 09, 2003

:: South Africa agrees to treat AIDS patients ::
The South African government has agreed to provide anti-retroviral drugs to people infected with HIV.

This decision is a significant reversal of policy and comes in the wake of a major conference where the government's preference for traditional medicines + enhanced nutrition instead of providing drugs to AIDS patients has come under stiff domestic + international criticism.

The Health Department has now been given until the end of next month to produce a plan as to how + when the drugs will be made available and to decide who will be eligible for them.

It is thought that the falling costs of retrovirals and a report which said that the cost of not treating those with AIDS was greater than the cost of offering treatment were instrumental in triggering this change of heart.

The Treatment Action campaign which has been campaigning for affordable treatment for people with AIDS has welcomed the government's announcement but said that it will "wait to see the actual operational plan before celebration"