The Clinton Foundation, an AIDS charity set up by former U.S. President Bill Clinton, has signed a deal with Nigeria to make cheap AIDS drugs available to fight the disease in Africa’s most populous nation.
Clinton says that many people do not go for HIV testing because they are afraid of discrimination and testing for HIV/AIDS was crucial to curbing the infection rate in Nigeria, where about 3 million people are living with the virus.
The former president says 90 percent of people who are infected do not know their HIV status which is why AIDS is spreading so rapidly in Africa.
Nigerian officials say the agreement will help extend access to treatment for children, and raise funds to fight AIDS in Nigeria, which has the third highest case load in the world after South Africa and India.
As much as $50 million in funds to fight AIDS was suspended in April by the the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, after Nigeria failed to meet targets on drug access and transparency in handling AIDS donations.
The Global Fund suspended two five-year grants to Nigeria after just two years because of low numbers of people on treatment and concerns over data accuracy.
Since leaving the White House Clinton has devoted much of his time and energy to getting anti-AIDS drugs to poor countries at the cheapest possible prices through the foundation.
The foundation provides AIDS drugs to more than 250,000 patients through special deals with generic drug makers.
Nigeria presently has about 74 treatment centers where it gives out free AIDS drugs to about 40,000 patients, and plans to expand the therapy to more of those who cannot afford it.
Clinton has called for ambitious goals to be set in the fight against AIDS in Africa.
The cost of antiretroviral (ARV) treatment has fallen from $500 per person per year four years ago to about $109 a year per person largely because of the development of generic drugs.
The Clinton Foundation is helping over 400,000 people in 56 countries access ARV treatment.
Revision date: July 6, 2011
Last revised: by Andrew G. Epstein, M.D.