A conference on the scaling up of antiretroviral (ARV) therapy in Southern Africa opened this week in Harare, Zimbabwe.
The first of its kind in the country, the event is being hosted by the Pan-African Treatment Access Movement (PATAM), the Treatment Action Campaign, Zimbabwe Activists on HIV and AIDS (ZAHA) and the Southern Africa HIV/AIDS Information Dissemination Service (SAfAIDS).
Addressing journalists on Wednesday at the start of the conference, SAfAIDS executive director, Lois Lunga, said the meeting could provide an opportunity for countries to review some of the challenges faced in the roll-out of ARVs.
He said the three-day conference, titled "Scaling up Treatment in Southern Africa: A Way Forward", was also expected to focus on the need for more public information on antiretroviral drug treatment.
"The conference would also focus on the World Health Organisation (WHO) 3 by 5 initiative, which is aimed at providing antiretroviral treatment to three million people by 2005," Lunga was quoted as saying.
The WHO initiative could this month see Zimbabwe's major hospitals offering ARVs to people living with HIV/AIDS under a partnership with UNAIDS and the country's Ministry of Health and Child Welfare.
A representative of the clergy, Bishop Trevor Manhanga, said it was time Africans discarded their perceived indifference towards the epidemic.
"This conference has to find out what is going wrong. Despite the suffering and deaths of our compatriots, we continue as though nothing is wrong. If debt-ridden bankrupt African countries can find the money to buy luxury vehicles for their government ministers and political cronies, then why can they not find the money to ease the suffering of their people infected by HIV/AIDS with access to ARVs and other essential medicines," said Manhanga.
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