ARV programme now open to all

2011-08-12 15:59

Bloemfontein - All HIV patients with a CD4 count of 350 or less will now get government antiretroviral (ARV) treatment, Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe announced on Friday.

Motlanthe chaired a South African National Aids Council (Sanac) meeting, where the announcement was made in Bloemfontein.

Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi said in 2009 the treatment for patients with a CD4 count of 350 was open only to certain “vulnerable” sections of the society such as pregnant women and children.

“Everybody who is HIV positive, regardless of what category they fall in, as long as their CD4 count is 350 they would start treatment.”

Replying to questions, Motsoaledi said the new move would cost the country more in ARV’s.

The government would budget R5bn for the first year with another billion rand added in the next financial year.

However, he thinks South Africa could afford the new costs as government had brought the cost of ARV medicine down by R4.7bn, an estimated 53%.

This was done with government’s new way of buying ARV medicines, which was done in a more “efficient” way.

Motsoaledi said the HCT campaign, which entailed a massive HIV counselling and testing drive which started in April 2010, was very successful.

In the past 15 months some 14 million people had been reached and 12 million people tested for HIV in the public sector and 1.5 million in the private sector.

Some two million people were found to be HIV positive and were referred for further care.

Motsoaledi said 60% of those tested in the HCT campaign were woman and more would be done to get men involved in future testing programmes.

“This is not a battle only for women, men must come on board.”

The minister also indicated that the ARV programme would be integrated into the future National Health Insurance system.

  • DeonL - 2011-08-12 16:06

    Well done, I hope the country can afford it.

      Marcell - 2011-08-12 16:39

      Only untill the goose is dead.

      Michael - 2011-08-12 16:41

      @DeanL-I agree with you, i also say well done to those involved.I think if the gvt was willing to do it, they can save money in many areas and we shouldn't be looking at increasing tax to supplement here. They must first fired the deputy ministers and only have the minister and DG.Look at all those needless expenditures on leases like the Justice where we are paying rent for an empty building.Privatise SAA and SABC so we won't have to bail out their losses.There is so much much money being wasted by the gvt it's scary.

      Marcell - 2011-08-12 16:46

      Thabo Mbeki new that it can not be sustained, that is why he said what he said.

      fraidycat - 2011-08-12 16:47

      Nope, the country cannot - they are already not paying various suppliers for other meds and equipment to afford this scheme. My question is - is giving ARV's away sending the right message to the masses?

      jevoixtout - 2011-08-12 17:01

      DeonL, you raise a good point. Just the other day it was reported on this news site that cancer patients were being turned away from gov hospitals. And the reason? No money to pay for the meds. Now there is suddenly a few billion lying around to pump into the HIV program according to DP Kgalema.

  • Bearman - 2011-08-12 16:09

    Really great news. Government should really stop wasting money, because many millions need this lifeline.

      EyesWideShut - 2011-08-12 17:23

      It is great news in terms of the innocents affected by the disease, but for the rest... just another case of the stupid being subsidised by my tax buck. How long has the world known about AIDS now, 30 years? It's not even that easy to transmit, as evidenced by our shining example president and his shower shenanigans. But spreads unchecked in Southern Africa, where in most places free contraceptives are available at every clinic. To add to this, some entrepreneurial types have turned their nasty little imaginations to creating a recreational drug produced from ARV's - "whoongha". Nice. Why worry about AIDS when there are so many cures available - sex with virgins, beetroot, showers and if all else fails - free ARV's.

      Marcell - 2011-08-12 17:37

      This IS a waste of money. Apart from rape victims these idiots brought it onto themselves. Now, we the taxpayers must pay for their stupidity. @News24. The truth hurts?

  • Fred Basset - 2011-08-12 16:16

    I'm sure you are all tired of me beating the same drum, but ARV's spell the end of our water sources as we know them. In simplified terms, the portion of the drug which is not metabolised by the human body passes out with the sewage, but as it is resistant to most micro-biological agents, it does not get broken down in nature. It will accumulate in our water courses and come back to poison future generations. These fears were highlighted in the CSIR water report of 2008, so the government adopted their usual strategy. They suppressed publication of the report and sacked Dr. Anthony Turton for publishing it.

      fraidycat - 2011-08-12 16:41

      But underpin the masses and their diseased breeding habits is much more lucrative for certain individuals. Make no mistake - this is not about saving lives, it is all about the value of the backhanders! So, we cannot expect that any negative impact will be published. This government and its people are not worried about tomorow.

  • fraidycat - 2011-08-12 16:38

    Wow, now how about paying your suppliers for cancer supplies and give cancer patients the same chance at life that the HIV/Aids people get.

      Marcell - 2011-08-12 16:41

      They need to look after the sheep that keeps them in power.

  • zackie - 2011-08-12 17:12

    more free stuff for people that do nothing except have sex with everything that walks

  • Vela Stardust - 2011-08-12 17:41

    Thank you Dr.Motsoaledi. Finally the ANC are seeing the light! Now we need the pilfering of state coffers to stop so that the HCT campaign can be funded from an existing tax base and not from additional taxes!

  • Bart Zimzon - 2011-08-12 17:54

    now that meds are free, I also like to have this HIV thing. Where can I buy one? Do they come in different colours?

      jevoixtout - 2011-08-12 18:14

      You get it mahala numzane, then you get the meds, then you can pass it on for mahala for a long time.

      Bart Zimzon - 2011-08-12 19:10

      c'est bon que tu voit tout (@ jevoiStout

  • facts please - 2011-08-12 17:55

    Does this include inmates at Correctional Centres?

  • Mxhuma - 2011-08-12 22:17

    A number of individuals who make comments on this site are both ignorant and insensitive to the plight of those who are infected with the HIV virus. The sich people we start on treatment become strong and go back to work: they pay taxes and continue to feed and bring up their children. The assumption that hiv + individuals brought it upon themselves is very ignorant, by South African standards. Such views can onlycome from someone who does not know the various dynamics at play across the SA society. According to the WHO the Anteretroviral drugs are very effective when they are started when the CD4 count reaches 500. I presonally do not like the present government, but on this one aspect I fully salute the President and Minister of Health. There will still be officials who will act in a corrupt manner but that does not suggest that by making ARVs widely available, the govt is encouraging corruption.

      Marcell - 2011-08-13 02:45

      ' individuals brought it upon themselves is very ignorant' I don't think it is something that you get by not screwing around. Education is the answer but then you get kids that have sex at school. Aids/Hiv education is done at school. This wasted money can be used to build more schools. Train more teachers. For the one's that were not raped or got it while trusting in their husband/wife I feel sorry BUT the rest of the lot I feel zip. It is because of you that not more money can be spend on uplifting the education system.

      50something - 2011-08-13 13:20

      Mxhuma - Please enlight us as to how AIDS is NOT self inflicted and I am not talking about children, rape victims, people getting AIDS through blood transfusions, etc., but the majority of cases. How do they contract the disease and how is it not a choise you make in your personal behaviour. People must stop screwing around, then this will not be neceesary. WE shall never eradicate AIDS as long as the moral values are what they are at present.

      Ross - 2011-08-13 13:41

      They screw like rabbits get infected and people that lead decent lives must now pay.

  • Thabo - 2011-08-12 22:52

    Congratulations are in order. But who is going to roll out this new patients as government has frozen posts for health workers such pharmacists who are needed to ensure the new patients given proper care. I work in an institution where there is already an overwhelming amount of patients but less staff as they leave for greener pastures because there is no support system or personnel. Why not get people then roll out coz you roll out now you might create a good situation to default then you get resistance, virological failure because of inability to have about 95% monthly compliance

      Mxhuma - 2011-08-13 08:56

      Thabo, I very much appreciate your insight into this matter. The issues you have raised are actually what we ought to be talking about. In the institution where i work, both the assistant pharmacist and the professional nurse have resigned in the same months and no one has replaced them yet. Rolling out ARVs is not a bad thing in itself, but surely there is more to this than just giving out tablets and periodically taking bloods.

  • nixie - 2011-08-13 12:34

    It is important to realise that unlike cancer, HIV is a communicable disease and thus poses a public health risk. From the comments below it seems as though people are advocating for our government to keep out of the matter and let the people who are infected die, 'because they deserve it'. The arguments made below are not new - they have been voiced by various groups of people in the past. Have we not as a species moved beyond blaming individuals, to understanding the social aspects of disease and its treatment. Just because you don't understand the rationale behind people's behaviour does not mean that there is no rationale. People behave differently in different environments and social circumstances. To say that you would behave as you do now under different circumstances (such as poverty) which seem foreign to you, is very ignorant. It is important for interventions to target the social aspects which fuel diseases such as HIV which is passed along (mainly) in such an intimate manner as sex. Gender inequality in our country is rife as is violence and other social ills. I have worked in HIV clinics for the past year, and about 80-90% of individuals who receive their medication there are committed to living healthily and respect others in their behaviour. How can we deny these individuals a chance to life.

      50something - 2011-08-13 13:23

      So if they are committed to linving healthy and respect other, how did they contract the disease?

  • 50something - 2011-08-13 13:15

    Opening up treatment will make people less careful in their personal behaviour, less condoms, more AIDS. I do not have any sympathy - AIDS is a choice for the vast majority and I resent the "ag shame" attitude that everyone has on this subject. AIDS is costing this country dearly. I truly feel imensly sorry for those that have to suffer, mostly children, because of the immoral behaviour of their parents and others and those that contract the disease by means of unhygenic practises or blood tranfusions. So shoot me, but that is my view.

  • Zikhona - 2011-08-13 15:45

    most ppl commenting he are so insensitive.comeon guys not all ppl get hiv by ignorence. and i believe if you were affected or infected by hiv you would say something else. we need to encourage hiv ppl and not discourage them.Thumbs up to the gorv and to hiv posive people and to those who have relative that are affected, stay strong.

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