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Church in South Africa rolls out AIDS drug program

The Southern African Catholic Bishops Conference (SACBC) announced yesterday that it is planning a further roll-out of its anti-retroviral (ARV) program for HIV and Aids patients in South Africa.

The SACBC said in a statement that 600,000 of the five million HIV-positive people in South Africa need ARVs. It said take up of the Department of Health's roll-out is slow and logistical complications make it impossible for the government to reach everybody.

The Catholic Church has a network of more than 140 service programs for people living with HIV and Aids in South Africa, making it the largest service provider in the country after the government, the SACBC said.

In February this year the church started rolling out its program to provide HIV and Aids ARV therapy (HAART) at 22 of its facilities. Seven of the 22 proposed points of service have already started with HAART, with a combined total of just less than 300 patients.

All other points of service have already identified staff and more than 100 doctors and nurses have been trained in ARV management. Each point of service is staffed with a medical doctor, a professional nurse and a project coordinator, all of whom are trained in government-accredited ARV management.

This number will be doubled to a total of 6,000 in the second year and doubled again to 12,000 in the third year.

The project is currently funded by Cordaid (The Netherlands) and Pepfar (United States). -

Catholic Church rolls out Aids drug program (Mail & Guardian/South African Press Association 6/7/04)

AIDS conference must live up to 'Access for all' (Independent Catholic News 6/7/04)
South African Catholic Bishops Conference

7 Jul 2004