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HIV Drug Coverage In Sub-Saharan Africa Continues To Improve But Not Sustainable, UNAIDS' Sidibe Says

At the end of 2011, 6.2 million people in sub-Saharan Africa were taking antiretroviral drugs, about 56 percent of the people in need in the region, UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibe noted in an interview last week, saying, “Ten years ago, nobody would have imagined that such a result would be possible,” Agence France-Presse reports. “Sidibe — visiting Paris ahead of the July 22-27 International AIDS Conference in Washington — said he was worried that African countries remained so dependent on foreign help,” the news service states. “With the exception of South Africa, 80 percent of Africans with HIV have access to drugs via funding from outside Africa. This is not sustainable. It’s even dangerous,” he said, according to the news service.

Sidibe “added he would call for an African Medicines Regulatory Agency at an Africa Union summit, taking place in Addis Ababa from July 13 to 15,” AFP notes, adding, “The proposed agency would vet drugs, given the widening problem of fake or below-quality medications that are being sold in Africa, and encourage local production of” antiretroviral drugs (7/6). “Africa’s dependency on external aid is destabilizing the HIV response. … Leaders across the African continent are poised to transcend the outdated donor-recipient paradigm and embrace a new compact for shared responsibility and global solidarity,” Sidibe said in a UNAIDS press release (7/6).

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