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Hyperinflation Puts AIDS Drugs Out Of Reach For Many Zimbabweans

The Zimbabwean dollar cost of antiretroviral drugs has soared by more than 400% since April, experts in the field say, leaving many who had come to depend on the regimen to continue living with HIV/AIDS scrambling for alternatives.

HIV/AIDS activists say a one-month regimen month of antiretroviral drug therapy that cost between Z$800,000 and Z$1 million two months ago has risen to Z$5 million to Z$12 million today - a rise in the local cost of between 400% and 1,100%. The tragic irony is that the cost of many AIDS drugs has steadily fallen in U.S. dollar terms.

With average monthly salaries ranging from Z$500,000 (US$3.35) to Z$2 million (US$13.35), the cost of such drugs is well beyond the reach of many.

While critics blame the government for its failure to make the state ARV program work through public health institutions, the government continues to blame ARV shortages on Western sanctions that target President Robert Mugabe and his inner circle.

Much of the funding for HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention in Zimbabwe comes from the United States and Europe, which have taken the lead in imposing sanctions.

Reporter Carole Gombakomba of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe reports that many of those who had been on ARVs have been forced to go off the treatment.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...