LILONGWE (Reuters) - Greater access to free medicine has helped
slash AIDS-related deaths in Malawi by 75 percent in the last four
years, a senior government official said on Monday.
HIV/AIDS has been blamed for 59 percent of deaths among those aged
between 15 to 59 years in the southern African country, which has a
population of 13 million.
But Malawi has made progress since 2004, when it started to offer
free antiretroviral therapy -- drugs that help treat immunodeficiency
virus -- to thousands of patients.
"I am happy that AIDS related deaths have decreased by over 75
percent over the last four years in comparison with the AIDS related
deaths we had in 2003-2004 because of increased free treatment," said
Mary Shawa, Malawi's principle secretary for
HIV & AIDS.
Malawi has had about 800,000 AIDS related deaths since 1985, when
the first case was reported. As of March this year, the government has
put 159,111 people on free antiretroviral drugs and 106,547 of those
are still alive.
"This represents a 67 percent survival rate. But we still need to
do more, because those who did not make it may have died because they
started the treatment late or did not have access to proper nutrition,"