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Access to ARTs made easy

Written by Noluthando Mkhize
The Department of Health is one step closer to ensuring  universal access to Anti-Retroviral Treatment (ART).

The department announced that from this month it will offer the test-and-treat service to all HIV-positive patients in line with the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) guidelines.

In May this year, Minister Aaron Motsoaledi announced during his budget speech that from 1 September 2016 South Africa would implement the new WHO guidelines.

The new guidelines state that people who are currently eligible to start treatment at CD4 <500 can now be treated, regardless of their CD4 levels.

Over the years the Department of Health has made sure that HIV-positive pregnant women, children under five years as well as HIV and TB co-infected patients receive ART regardless of their CD4 count. The department's new treatent plan will contribute to the National Development Plan’s goal of increasing life expectancy to at least 70 years by 2030. The new policy means people diagnosed with HIV can also live long and healthy lives once they are on ARV medication.

“The National Department of Health is aware that this announcement will result in more HIV-positive people accessing ART services, which may lead to congestion and increased waiting times at health facilities.”

To ease the burden the department has initiated a process of dispensing and disributing medicine in a that is convenient to patients.

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