South Africa has one of the highest rates of HIV infection in the world, but government's effort to reduce this rate is paying off.
Since the launch of government’s HIV Counselling and Testing (HCT) campaign, more than 11 million South Africans have tested and this figure is growing every month.
Before government started its HCT campaign in April last year, about 900 000 people were on antiretroviral (ARV) treatment but now more than 1,4 million people are on treatment. This is due to the price being reduced by 53 per cent, which means more patients can be treated.
Previously, only 490 health centres were able to provide ARVs as official service points and only 250 nurses were certified to provide ARVs. The number has now increased to 2 205 centres and 2 000 certified nurses.
“This has increased access to treatment in a manner unimagined just over a year ago,” said Health Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi.
“Our target is that all 4 000 health outlets should be accredited as ARV centres by the end of the year and our target is over 4 000 nurses to be certified by the end of the year.”
The Minister said as part of the Department of Health’s programme to expand treatment and in a bid to reduce the burden of HIV and TB, treatment would also be provided to prisoners. To this end, the department has already signed an agreement with the Department of Correctional Services and with Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula.
TB and HIV co-infection
However, despite the progress made so far, South Africa still has the highest TB and HIV co-infection rate in the world. South Africa makes up only 0,7 per cent of the world’s population, but we are carrying 17 per cent of the world’s HIV and AIDS burden.
In addition, South Africa has the highest TB infection rate per population, and our TB and HIV co-infection rate is the highest in the world, at 73 per cent. A total of 35 per cent of child deaths and 43 per cent of maternal deaths are as a result of HIV and AIDS and one in every three pregnant women who visit our antenatal clinics is HIV positive.