A new report delivered to two congressional committees shows that at least 25,000 HIV-positive people in developing countries are now taking antiretroviral medications through the five-year $15 billion President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, The Washington Post reports. The report, which surveyed nine of the 15 countries targeted by PEPFAR, shows that the federal program has directly provided anti-HIV medications to at least 18,800 HIV-positive people and indirectly funded antiretroviral treatment for 6,100 more. A final report covering all 15 countries--Botswana, Ethiopia, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Haiti, Guyana, and Vietnam--will be released later this fall. Randall Tobias, head of the federal Office of the Global AIDS Coordinator, told the Post that "despite all the obstructions of getting something like this up and running, there is every reason to believe that we are on target to meet the goals that we have laid out."
Critics of PEPFAR, who say the program is moving too slowly, say that the number of HIV-positive people receiving antiretrovirals is far below the program's initial goals. "Congress set 500,000 as the treatment goal for this month, not 25,000," says AIDS Healthcare Foundation spokesman Cesar Portillo in a press statement. "President Bush himself said that success will be measured in lives saved, and these results can't be labeled anything but failure."
PEPFAR aims to have 2 million people receiving anti-HIV medications by 2008. The program also aims to prevent 7 million new HIV infections and provide care for 10 million AIDS orphans.