South Africa plans to cut taxes and increase spending on AIDS and health care in its next budget, finance minister Trevor Manuel told parliament this week. The budget would boost spending on the government's HIV/AIDS program by an additional $330 million over the next three years, on top of the $487 million already earmarked for the program. Although Manuel declined to give details of how the additional money would be spent, a government source said that a large portion of the allocation would be used to gradually make antiretroviral drugs available through public hospitals and clinics.
Government officials also said they are launching studies into the possibility of eventually providing antiretroviral drugs to all of the nation's estimated 4.7 million HIV-positive residents. Any such plan would likely require outside assistance, including financial grants, discounts on anti-HIV medications by drugmakers, and donations of antiretroviral medications.