South Africa not reaching MDG’s for HIV/Aids and TB infections.

July 23, 2012

Health, HIV/Aids

The current statistics for HIV and TB infections indicate that South Africa will not reach the Millenium Development Goals (MDG’s) of reversing these epidemics as well as reducing mother to child transmission of HIV by 2015. Statistics for 2009 showed that 17 % of the adult population of South Africa are living with HIV which translates to approximately 5,63 Million people, almost 60% of which is made up of women. Statistics for 2008 show that 35% of under 5 child mortality is due to HIV infection. South Africa also has the third highest level of TB in the world, with 970 new infections per 100 000 in 2009. New HIV infections continue to outpace the number of people starting treatment in South Africa, and statistics released in 2011 show one third of pregnant women attending public sector antenatal clinics in SA to be HIV-positive.

The South African National AIDS Council (SANAC) has laid out a strategic plan to reduce incidence and prevalence of HIV, TB and STI’s that will cost approximately R130,7 Billion over a 5 year period. This translates to R26 Billion in one year, which could have been covered by the R30 Billion that was wasted on fraud and corruption. This comprehensive plan aims to halve the amount of new HIV, TB and STI infections, ensure that at least 80% of people eligible for HIV ARV treatment receive it, that treatment therapy for TB is administered to those who are infected, decrease the stigma associated with these diseases and make sure that the rights of those infected are attended to. This includes various programs ranging from testing, contraception, education, medication, policy frameworks, immunizations and improving services for survivors of Sexual Assaults (including the availability of Post Exposure Prophylaxis or P.E.P). Cheryllyn Dudley, ACDP MP, says that “Compulsory HIV testing has always been seen by the ACDP as a necessary measure in view of the national emergency HIV constitutes.The ACDP notes that one of the biggest challenges to mass treatment is that 74% of South Africans most at risk of acquiring the virus are unaware of their status and called on SANAC to include this in their strategy in 2011. Clearly the message for everyone to know their HIV status, and to re-test every year, is not getting through. Therefore the premise of providing state funded testing for all citizens would be a very important step, and the ACDP congratulates SANAC for including this in their objectives, but would also like to see a strategy inclusive of annual re-testing”.

Early diagnosis of HIV helps improve care, slow disease progression and improve on response to medication. If there is routine screening for diseases like cancer and diabetes, then why not for HIV/AIDS? This then relates to an issue of stigma. The ACDP calls for more extensive effort by government to find new ways to change attitudes towards HIV/AIDS. HIV testing for everyone should be a norm and will reduce the stigma attached to testing. Testing positive for HIV should no longer be regarded as a death sentence, as life saving ARV’s are widely accessible to assist those who test positive to live longer and more productive lives. There would be less stigma attached to testing if it were made easily accessible and done regularly on business premises, in shopping centres, health facilities, police stations etc. Obviously counselling must go hand in hand with testing and linking people with support and treatment must be an obvious outcome.

ACDP MP, Cherilyn Dudley says: “The Government was slow in rolling out treatment for HIV/AIDS in the 1990’s and there was also a delay in post millennial inclusion of ARV’s and P.E.P’s in the treatment program, including treatment for Mother to Child transmission as it claimed the cost of providing such treatments was too high. The ACDP has always argued that increased pharmaceutical costs would be balanced by decreased hospitalization costs, as well as a decrease in the amount spent on social welfare to provide for children orphaned by HIV/AIDS (including the emotional benefit of parents surviving for longer). In a trial in 2011, HIV-positive people with an undetectable viral load on ARV treatment did not pass on the virus to their partners.  This makes Anti-Retroviral Treatment a highly effective weapon in the war on AIDS. ”

The ACDP has consistently challenged government spending with regards to HIV/AIDS solutions, calling for the inclusion of ARV’s and P.E.P’s in the National Treatment Progamme since 1999 in the National Assembly, and long before this in the KwaZulu-Natal Legislature. The ACDP has demonstratively pioneered HIV treatment work in KZN since 1997, and has always advocated the effectiveness of anti-retrovirals. Government has historically invested large amounts of money into the Love Life campaign, which from the beginning provided no guarantee of reducing the HIV/AIDS pandemic.

, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply