When the international community commemorates World AIDS Day on the 1 December, South Africa can reflect on the great strides it has made in fighting the disease.
Five years ago the country took a bold decision to revamp its HIV/ AIDS policies and by putting more people on antiretroviral (ARV) treatment.
This saw the life expectancy rate increase from 52,7 years in 2002 to 59,6 years in 2013. There are more than 2,4 million South Africans on antiretroviral treatment programme.
During his Budget Vote, Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi announced that HIV positive people with a CD4 count of 500 would now be able to receive ARVs, laying a foundation to targets set out in the National Development Plan (NDP) of reaching of achieving universal access of ARVs for all HIV positive people by the year 2030.
He also said that for pregnant women the Department of Health would now follow option B+ of the World Health Organisation, which stipulates that every pregnant HIV positive woman goes on life long treatment regardless of their CD4 count status.
Currently, the HIV policy in the country states that pregnant women stay on treatment only while breast-feeding and stop after termination of breastfeeding if their CD4 count is 350.
This new policy will be implemented from January 2015.
The Department of Health has also administered the roll out of the fixed-dose combination dubbed the ‘single dose’ containing emtricitabine, efavirenz and tenofovir.
This helps reduce pill burden among HIV positive patients.
During World AIDS Day all nations come together to increase awareness about the disease as well as encourage each person to take responsibility of their health by practising safe sex and getting tested for HIV.