1 June 2011
Nearly 12-million South Africans have tested for HIV since the launch of the voluntary HIV Counselling and Testing campaign in April last year, Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi told in Parliament in Cape Town this week.
At the same time, the number of South Africans receiving antiretroviral (ARV) treatment for had increased from 923 000 in February 2010 to more than 1.4-million, Motsoaledi said.
Presenting his department’s R25.7-billion budget for the year 2011/12, Motsoaledi said the government had managed to cut the price of antiretroviral medication by 53%, enabling it to put more people on treatment.
With the government seeking to provide universal treatment coverage to patients with CD4 counts of 350 and less, Motsoaledi said that prices would have to be reduced even further.
Since the launch of the Counselling and Testing campaign, the number of accredited health centres capable of providing antiretroviral treatment has increased from 490 to 2 205, while the number of nurses certified to provide treatment has increased from 250 to 2 000.
“This has increased access to treatment in a manner unimagined just over a year ago,” he said. “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 for over 4 000 nurses to be certified by the end of the year.”
Combating TB co-infection
As part of the department’s programme to expand treatment, and in an effort to reduce the burden of HIV and TB, treatment will be provided to those who have been diagnosed.
However, despite the progress made so far, Motsoaledi reiterated his concerns about the country having the highest TB and HIV co-infection rate in the world.
“To summarise the problems of HIV/Aids and TB in our country, all I need to tell you is that we are only 0.7% of the world population, but we are carrying 17% of the HIV/Aids burden of the world,” Motsoaledi said. “We have the highest TB infection rate per population, and our TB and HIV co-infection rate is the highest in the world, at 73%.
“A total of 35% of child mortality and 43% of maternal mortality is attributable to HIV/Aids, and one in every three pregnant women presenting at our antenatal clinics is HIV-positive.”
As part of efforts to raise greater awareness of the campaign in the country’s rural areas, Motsoaledi said that the department would, together with the House of Traditional Leaders and the Congress of Traditional Leaders of South Africa, launch a massive Counselling and Testing campaign at Mafefe village in Limpopo on 12 June.