South Africa expands ARV treatment

20 July 2012

South Africa’s Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi says there has been an increase in the number of people receiving free antiretroviral treatment, with 20% more people living with HIV having been put on treatment between 2010 and 2011.

“We have significantly increased the number of new patients on ARV treatment – an additional 300 000 patients on treatment – between 2010 and 2011,” Motsoaledi said at the launch of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/Aids (UNAids) 2012 Global Aids Report in Pretoria on Thursday.

Aids 2012 LIVE

South Africa’s participation at Aids 2012 will be webcast live on on Monday evening – schedule to be confirmed – watch this space!

The report states that low and middle-income countries invested US$8.6-billion for the HIV/Aids response in 2011, an increase of 11% from 2010.

According to the report, 81 countries increased their domestic investments for Aids by more than 50% between 2006 and 2011. As economies in low and middle-income countries grew, domestic public investments for Aids also grew.

Dealing decisively with HIV and tuberculosis

“Clearly, the continent is doing much to deal decisively with the twin epidemics of HIV and tuberculosis,” Motsoaledi said.

Sixty percent of people living with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa were women and girls, and Motsoaledi said access to education for girls, keeping girl children in school for as long as possible and empowerment of women in other ways were critical in the fight against the epidemic.

“Given that TB is a twin of HIV, we also need to pay more attention to TB, especially with the finding that more than 80% of people living with HIV and TB live in sub-Saharan Africa,” he said.

According to the report, domestic public spending in sub-Saharan Africa, not including South Africa, increased by 97% over the last five years.

South Africa already spends more than 80% from domestic sources and has quadrupled its domestic investments between 2006 and 2011.

BRICS countries – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – also increased domestic public spending on HIV by more than 120% between 2006 and 2011. BRICS countries now fund, on average, more than 75% of their domestic Aids responses, according to the report.

‘Significant declines in new HIV infections’

In 2010, UNAids reported that at least 56 countries had either stabilised or achieved significant declines in rates of new HIV infections. This trend has been maintained and new HIV infections have fallen by nearly 20% in the last 10 years worldwide.

New global data shows that 2.5-million people were newly infected with HIV, 100&nbps;000 fewer than the 2.6-million new infections in 2010.

Motsoaledi said while the 2012 report paints a good picture, there is more work to be done. “This means that we must still ensure that sufficient domestic and global resources are mustered to deal with the epidemic.”

The report also outlines the significant progress that has been made in reducing new HIV infections in children. Since 2009, new infections in children have fallen by an estimated 24%. Some 330 000 children were newly infected in 2011, almost half than at the peak of the epidemic in 2003, which was 570 000.

Sustaining the Aids response will require strong country ownership and global solidarity, stresses the report. It also emphasises the need for investments to be sustainable and predictable and that countries must be able to mobilise and use resources effectively and efficiently.