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S. African Government Must Provide AIDS Drugs to Pregnant Women

A South African court has ruled that the government must provide pregnant women with nevirapine, a drug that helps prevent the spread of AIDS from infected mothers to their infants during labor. The government is appealing the decision to the countries highest court, but has been told it must provide the drug while the case is pending. South Africa has the highest AIDS infection rate in the world, with one in nine residents HIV positive. Nevirapine is currently only available at 18 test sites in the country, and the Health Minister said over the weekend that the government would not follow court orders to supply the drug at more sites, calling the ruling unconstitutional. The government has been criticized for its failure to effectively address the AIDS problem; AIDS activists are working to ensure that the government is fulfills its obligation to distribute the drug to all public hospitals.

Sources:

Associated Press Ð 3/25/02