The fight against the HIV/ADS epidemic in Mozambique has in recent years cost an average of US$350 million a year. Giving these figures on 3 June, the Deputy Executive Secretary of the National AIDS Council (CNCS), Diogo Milagre, said that more than half of this sum is spent on Anti-Retroviral (ARV) drug treatment.

Speaking at the end of a session of the CNCS Steering Council, chaired by Prime Minister Carlos Agostinho do Rosario, Milagre said the most recent statistics suggested that 11.5 per cent of the population aged between 15 and 49 is HIV positive, with the prevalence rate among women at 13.1 per cent and 9.2 per cent among men. Among urban dwellers the prevalence is 15.9 per cent and in rural areas 9.2 per cent.

These figures should be treated with caution as they are drawn from the 2009 National AIDS Survey. No comprehensive survey has been undertaken since 2009. Milagre said the country is now working on the fourth version of the national strategic plan against the epidemic. He stated that male circumcision contributes greatly to preventing infections, and so the CNCS is interested in encouraging this practice. Other measures include testing.

The health authorities also stress the prevention of vertical transmission of the virus from a pregnant woman to her unborn child. Ante-natal consultations now including testing pregnant women for HIV – those who test positive can immediately be started on ARV treatment. The agenda for the Steering Council included a discussion on funding the response to the epidemic.

However, the meeting took no decision on finance because, according to Health Minister Nazira Abdula, the deputy chair of the CNCS, there was no concrete proposal. “We still have to discuss what are the means and possibilities of funding, since the package of measures is enormous”, she said.

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