Half million Malawians on free AIDS drugs: president

Malawi is distributing free AIDS drugs to half a million people after years of nationwide HIV tests by the poor southern African nation, President Joyce Banda said Friday.

"Half of the population has so far been tested for HIV and half a million people are now on free drugs," Banda was quoted by state television as telling the first meeting of the UNAIDS and Lancet Commission in the administrative capital Lilongwe.

Malawi has an estimated 15 million citizens, of which only 5,000 people were on free drugs in 2004.

Banda said her country, which depends heavily on foreign aid, has in recent years spent $722 million—bankrolled by donors and the Global Fund for HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria—to fight the "scourge of HIV and AIDS".

Urging Malawians "to open up" on the topics of sex and AIDS, still considered taboo subjects in the conservative country, Banda said she had ordered that from next month, the country should switch to new AIDS drugs "with less side effects and to promote sustainable health".

"Let's openly discuss HIV and AIDS issues to end stigma and discrimination," she said.

Malawi, where one in 10 people is HIV positive, registers 1,000 new cases weekly, a top government official said in February, warning most people were not changing their behaviour.

In May the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and medical journal The Lancet convened a new commission of political and health leaders "to explore the post-2015 agenda of AIDS and global health".

Related Stories

Malawi gets 1,000 new HIV infections a week

date Feb 23, 2013

AIDS-ravaged Malawi, where over a tenth of the population is HIV positive, records on average 1,000 new cases weekly, a top government official said Saturday.

Malawi adopts UN guidelines on AIDS

date Sep 29, 2010

(AP) -- Malawi's vice president says her AIDS-ravaged southern African country will adopt the latest U.N. health guidelines that call for putting HIV-positive people on drugs sooner.

WHO says Cambodia can end HIV infections by 2020

date May 10, 2013

Cambodia is on track to become one of the few countries in the world to successfully reverse its HIV epidemic and may eliminate new infections by 2020, the World Health Organization said Friday.

One in 10 South Africans HIV positive

date May 14, 2013

One in ten South Africans is HIV positive but AIDS-related deaths are falling as ramped-up treatment begins to have an impact, the country's official statistics agency said Tuesday.

Recommended for you

HIV prevention and risk behaviors follow weekly patterns

date 5 hours ago

The peak time for seeking information on topics related to HIV, such as prevention and testing, is at the beginning of the week, while risky sexual behaviors tend to increase on the weekends, according to a new analysis by ...

Mathematical model seeks functional cure for HIV

date 7 hours ago

(Medical Xpress)—Individuals with the natural ability to control HIV infection in the absence of treatment are referred to as elite controllers (ECs). Such individuals maintain undetectable viral loads ...

Indiana HIV outbreak, hepatitis C epidemic sparks US alert

date Apr 24, 2015

Federal health officials helping to contain an HIV outbreak in Indiana state issued an alert to health departments across the U.S. on Friday, urging them to take steps to identify and track HIV and hepatitis C cases in an ...

Why are HIV survival rates lower in the Deep South than the rest of the US?

date Apr 22, 2015

The Deep South region has become the epicenter of the US HIV epidemic. Despite having only 28% of the total US population, nine states in the Deep South account for nearly 40% of national HIV diagnoses. This region has the highest HIV diagnosis rates and the highest number of people living with HIV of any ...

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.