The Coca-Cola Africa Foundation announced this week that all 40 of the company's independent bottling contractors in Africa will begin to provide low-cost HIV antiretroviral drugs to their HIV-positive employees and their families. HIV antibody tests, counseling services, and prevention education also will be offered.
Employees of Namibia Beverages, a Coca-Cola bottling company, began receiving the drugs in October 2002 through a pilot program designed to test the feasibility of providing the medications to all Coca-Cola workers. Foundation officials expect about 60,000 African employees and their family members to need the medications. Coca-Cola will pay half of the cost of the plan, and the bottlers will cover about 40% of the cost of the program. Drugs will be sold to the companies by generic-drug makers and other pharmaceutical companies at steep discounts. Employees will make a copayment of about 10% for the HIV antiretroviral drugs; testing and other services will be offered for free.