30 July 2008
South Africa is one of the three countries in southern Africa where the prevalence of HIV/Aids has stabilised, according to a report from the United Nations Joint Programme on HIV/Aids (UNAids).
The 2008 Report on the Global Aids Epidemic, released by UNAids on Tuesday, finds that the prevalence of HIV/Aids in South Africa, Malawi and Zambia were decreasing.
The report also provided encouraging data on the trend of HIV/Aids epidemic in South Africa and the African continent.
According to the report, of the three million people on anti-retroviral (ARV) treatment worldwide by 2007, South Africa accounted for close to 429 000, up from only 55 000 in 2004.
According to the UNAids report, close to 160 000 HIV-positive people who also had Tuberculosis (TB) received TB and HIV treatment in 2007.
“The percentage of HIV positive women accessing ARV treatment to reduce the risk of mother-to-child transmission of HIV also increased from 15% in 2004 to about 60% in 2007,” the report stated.
The report acknowledged the efforts being made in the area of prevention, noting that some 96% of South African schools were providing life skills based HIV education in the last academic year.
It also listed South Africa’s men in partnership against gender violence and the role of Soul City as some of the exemplary programmes on HIV prevention.
Health Department spokesperson Sibani Mngadi said the department was encouraged by the progress shown in the report, as well as the reduced impact of Aids in South Africa.
He said that while HIV/Aids remained a major challenge facing South Africa due to the highest number of people living with the virus, the latest UNAids report confirmed that the country also had the highest number of people on treatment globally.
“The department remains committed in intensifying its contribution to the national multi-sectoral response to HIV/Aids,” Mngadi said.
Treatment, care and support
During a social sector cluster briefing in May, Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang reported that the treatment, care and support intervention was gradually gaining momentum in line with the government’s commitment to deal with HIV/Aids challenge.
“As at February 2008, our figures show that at least 456 000 had been initiated on antiretroviral treatment and 39 759 of these are children in all 407 facilities accredited to provide this service,” she said.
Tshabalala-Msimang said at the time that 86% of the health sub-districts in the country had at least one service point accredited to provide comprehensive care to people living with HIV/Aids.