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Ethiopia launches free AIDS drug treatment programme

The government of Ethiopia, one of the poorest countries in Africa, has announced a new strategic plan to combat AIDS and HIV in the country. In 2003 alone, 114,690 people died of AIDS-related illnesses, and around 1.4 million people were estimated to be living HIV.

The new strategy will aim to give free antiretroviral drug treatment to 320,000 people by 2008, an initiative funded primarily by the U.S President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS relief. Over the course of 2005, the country will receive $17 million from PEPFAR, much of which will be spent on treatment and prevention in rural areas. While urban and overall prevalence is decreasing, the number of people with HIV in more remote regions is increasing rapidly according to Ethiopia’s ministry of health. Funding will therefore be used primarily to set up health centres, train healthcare professionals and generally provide care in the areas worst affected.

More about the US President’s Emergency Plan can be found on our PEPFAR page.