• antiretroviral therapy;
  • Botswana;
  • developing world;
  • ethics;
  • health systems;
  • citizenship;
  • sub-Saharan Africa


Often celebrated as a model of development in Africa, Botswana nonetheless endured a severe HIV epidemic. This article describes the singularity of the Botswana experience in facing AIDS and creating the widest possible access to antiretroviral medications for its citizens. Through exploration of different sets of actors and the construction of their ethics of treatment, it is possible to examine how free and universal access was created within the national antiretroviral program. This article underscores the importance of the site and the local dynamics in the advent of an ethics of access to treatment for Botswana citizens. At the intersection of national citizenship, pharmaceutical philanthropy, and biomedical collaborations, Botswana is an exemplary case (one of the first and unique in its kind) of global health programs for access to drugs in which patients' rights are tied to science and pharmaceutical development. As such it also bears some limitations and concerns over its sustainability.