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Freeze on HIV spending sparks concern in Africa

A US decision to freeze spending on treatment for HIV in several African countries has prompted concern that some of the gains made against the AIDS epidemic since 2003 could be reversed.

President George W. Bush's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), launched in 2003, focused largely on treating patients in urgent need of medicine, but the new US administration's programme has shifted away from emergency treatment.

"George W. Bush is a hero in this country," said Peter Mugyenyi, who heads Uganda's Joint Clinical Research Centre, a leading AIDS treatment clinic.

Uganda received 929 million dollars (678 million euros) from PEPFAR between 2003-2008 and used much of those funds to provide some 150,000 people with Antiretroviral therapy.

But the US switch in emphasis means that clinics are now being forced to turn new patients away.
 
 

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