Over 380,000 Malawians on free HIV drugs -official

AIDS-ravaged Malawi has 383,000 people on free anti-retrovirals (ARVs), up from 5,000 when the programme started seven years ago, health authorities said Wednesday.

“I am pleased to report that 74,000 new patients were put on anti-retroviral therapy putting the number of patients ever started on ART at 383,000,” Thomas Bisika, director of the National AIDS Commission said in a statement.

Bisika: NAC boss

Around 14 percent of the country’s 13 million citizens are infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, according to official figures.

Malawi launched the free anti-AIDS drugs scheme in 2004 with 5,000 initial beneficiaries.

The poor southern African nation has 90,000 new annual infections, largely among young people and women, according to UNAIDS.

The World Bank gave Malawi a $30-million (20.3-million-euro) grant two years ago to prevent HIV infections and speed up the roll-out of free drugs.

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