A new decree has said that Ivorians with HIV/AIDS can now get free anti-retroviral treatment in public health centers with foreign funders picking up much of the tab.
"Antiretroviral treatment is free in all public health establishments," said the decree signed by Health Minister Remi Allah Kouadio, which took effect August 20.
Most of the treatment costs will be paid for by the US government's emergency plan for AIDS relief (PEPFAR) and the Geneva-based Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.
The two have earmarked 19 million dollars (13 millions euros) and seven million dollars respectively for AIDS relief over the 2008-2009 period, said Toussaint Sibailly, the doctor in charge of the PEPFAR programme here.
The Ivorian government is investing one billion CFA francs (two million dollars) into the project.
Funders hope to treat 77,000 people during the first period, rising to 104,000 by 2010, Sibailly said.
Roughly 4.7 percent of people are HIV-positive in the west African country, according to a 2005-2006 national survey, translating to about 750,000 people of which about a seventh are eligible for anti-retroviral treatment.