November 15, 2008 / 7:01 PM / 11 years ago

Togo says to distribute HIV/AIDS drugs at no cost

LOME (Reuters) - Togo will start distributing free of charge from November 17 the anti-retroviral drugs that extend the lives of HIV/AIDS patients, its government said Saturday.

“Anti-retroviral medicines distributed by the network of the Central Supply of Essential and Generic Medicines (CAMEG) will be free of charge from Monday 17 November throughout the country,” an official statement broadcast on state radio said.

Around 25,000 people will benefit from the measure, said Augustin Dokla, who represents a network of HIV/AIDS sufferers, up from 8,000 who already have access to the drugs from CAMEG.

Patients who want to receive the free drugs must register with local medical committees.

Anti-retrovirals bought privately cost between 3,000 and 25,000 CFA francs ($47.53) per month. Such treatment can significantly reduce the level of HIV virus in the blood but transmission risks remain, U.N. health agencies have said.

Since 2006, the rate of HIV infection among the Togolese population has been steady at 3.2 percent, according to official figures.

Reporting by John Zodzi; Writing by Daniel Magnowski; Editing by Richard Balmforth

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