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Mozambique to observe minute's silence

india Updated: Nov 30, 2006 18:30 IST

Mozambique will observe a minute's silence at midday on Friday to mark World AIDS Day and remember all those who died of the disease, the government said on Thursday.

An estimated 1.6 million Mozambicans are HIV-positive, and an estimated 500 people of the 12 million population are becoming infected every day in the poor southern African nation.

Prime Minister Luisa Diogo has declared the pandemic a national calamity and says the government's messages on prevention are not getting through.

About 250,000 people need anti-retroviral medicines. So far, 38,000 are receiving the therapy and the government says it is confident that it will exceed its target of 40,000 by the end of the year.

"We can and should do more," said Diogo. "Our hospitals can do more. But people don't show up to get tested, because they are afraid of the stigma."

"We need people to consider HIV/AIDS as a chronic disease that they can live with," Diogo added. "People go to hospital for treatment for other chronic diseases such as diabetes, so why not for AIDS?"

In the recent past, anti-retroviral therapy was only available in the provincial capitals. Now the government is making it available in rural hospitals and health centers throughout the country. Mozambique and Brazil, who share the same Portuguese language, are working on a plan to build a $23 million pharmaceutical plant in Mozambique that would manufacture generic anti-retroviral drugs.