South Africa, trying to overcome years of denial and delay in confronting its monumental AIDS crisis, is now in the midst of a feverish buildup of testing, treatment and prevention that United Nations officials say is the largest and fastest expansion of AIDS services ever attempted by any nation.
The undertaking will be expensive and difficult to pull off, but in the past month alone the government has enabled 519 health facilities to dispense AIDS medicines, more than it had in all the years combined since South Africa began providing antiretroviral drugs to its people in 2004, South African health officials said.
…the government has trained the hundreds of nurses now prescribing AIDS drugs — formerly the province of doctors — and will train thousands more so that each of the country’s 4,333 public clinics can dispense the medicines, a step Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi called essential to combating “this monster amongst us” in a country short of physicians.
Michel Sidibé, executive director of Unaids, the United Nations AIDS agency, said South Africa’s undertakings offered hope to the continent. “It’s the first time one country has scaled up so quickly, to so many people,” he said.
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