4.6 million take HIV test in SA
Johannesburg - More than 4.6 million South Africans took an HIV test since April, Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe said at a World Aids Day event in Mpumalanga on Wednesday.
Of this number 800 000 (17%) tested positive for HIV, Motlanthe said, according to a copy of his speech.
The 4.6 million were part of a group of 5.5 million people who received counselling for HIV, and chose to be tested. President Jacob Zuma launched a national HIV counselling and testing campaign in April.
The 2010 testing rate was an improvement of over 500% compared with that of 2009, where there had been no such campaign, he said.
Motlanthe told the gathering, held in Mkhondo, that the theme of last year's World Aids Day was "I am responsible". This year the focus was on collective responsibility.
"It means that friends, colleagues and families should talk about HIV in their workplaces, homes and communities and take appropriate action to care for those infected and affected."
He said at last year's World Aids Day Zuma announced all HIV positive pregnant women with a CD4 count of 350 or less would begin antiretroviral (ARV) treatment. All HIV positive infants would start ARV treatment regardless of their CD4 count. All HIV and TB co-infected patients would start ARV treatment at a CD4 count of 350 and less.
200 000 new patients on ARVs
To achieve the above Motlanthe said more public health facilities were accredited to provide ARV treatment, and more than 3 126 nurses had since been trained to initiate patients on treatment.
He provided further statistics about the administration of treatment.
"More than 200 000 new patients have been initiated on ARVs since April this year, bringing a total number of up to a million people on ARVs.
"Between April and September this year 20 000 pregnant women were initiated on ARV treatment, compared to 15 000 during the same period last year. This represents a 28% increase in 2010 compared to 2009. This will help reduce the number of babies born with HIV."
Speaking at the same event, Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi said prevention was the main weapon in the fight against HIV/Aids in the country.
As part of prevention measures, the health department planned to increase the distribution of male and female condoms and promote male circumcision.