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Zimbabwe AIDS Activists Say Food Now More Critical Than Drugs

Zimbabwe's National Network of People Living With HIV/AIDS has asked the central bank and government to provide its 120,000 members with food under the government's so-called Basic Commodity Supply Side Intervention program, known as Bacossi.

The Ministry of Health, meanwhile, said it is trying to increase distribution of life-prolonging antiretroviral drugs.

Data compiled by the International Treatment Preparedness Coalition showed some 104,000 people on the ARV regimen in May, an increase of 58,000 from 2007 levels. The figure represents about 40% of those believed to be in need of the drugs.

Many in the HIV/AIDS community in Zimbabwe hope the recently-signed agreement for power-sharing will result in increased funding for the fight against the pandemic.

Movement for Democratic Change founder Morgan Tsvangirai said in signing the deal on Sept. 15 that “we need medication and doctors back in our hospitals.”

Benjamin Mazhindu, chairman of the National Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS, told reporter Carole Gombakomba that while drugs are important, his group’s first priority now is food to sustain those living with the disease.

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