Resources have never been adequate to tackle the world’s highest HIV infection rate in the tiny kingdom, but in recent months, the cash-poor government and dwindling donor funding have led to increasing panic among people living with HIV.
“Only Two Months Supply of ARVs Left,” headlined the front page of the Swazi Observer recently, quoting an MP's remarks to parliament warning that the country's economic troubles could put people's lives in danger. One in four Swazis between the ages of 15 and 49 is living with HIV - at 26.1 percent, the world's highest prevalence - in a population of about one million.
“Drug droughts are [becoming] common in Swaziland. Hospitals go for months without basic drugs and supplies. But ARVs are different. Like TB drugs, the user cannot miss a day. I can tell you that people are already very concerned,” said Sandile Hlope, a programme officer for a Manzini-based HIV testing and counselling centre.
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MONEY RUNS OUT FOR AIDS DRUGS