New HIV infection, Aids deaths fall

2014-01-18 07:00
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Durban - New HIV infections in South Africa have fallen by a third since 2004, according to a report handed to Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe on Friday.

Between 2004 and 2012, the number of new HIV infections fell from an estimated 540 000 to 370 000, shows the report by the Joint UN Programme on HIV/Aids, commonly known as UNAids.

"The general message is that it's good news," said UNAids country co-ordinator for South Africa Dr Catherine Sozi.

Speaking at an event in Durban, where the report was handed to Motlanthe, she said the figures were compiled from a variety of sources, including the 2011 census and surveys.

The number of Aids deaths fell by 30% from 330 000 in 2004 to 240 000 in 2012, and were projected to fall to below 150 000 in 2016.

Sozi said government's increased roll-out of the antiretroviral (ARV) therapy programme had averted an estimated 780 000 deaths between 2004 and 2012.

Most of these, about 250 000, were estimated to have been in KwaZulu-Natal, the epicentre of the pandemic.

An estimated 2.7 million people receive ARV drugs in South Africa, making it the largest programme of its kind in the world, according to Sozi.

Most of those receiving treatment are women.

Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi said the department hoped to have 4.6 million people taking ARVs by 2016. He said it was important that every South African be tested for the disease at least once a year.

In KwaZulu-Natal, the mother-to-child transmission rate had fallen from 20.5% in 2005 to 2.1% in 2011. The national average stood at 2.7%.

According to the report, the number of new infections among children under the age of 15 had fallen from 90 000 in 2004 to under 10 000 in 2013.

Children under 15 accounted for only 6% of new infections compared to 15% in 2004.

In 2012, the number of children who had lost one or both parents to the disease was estimated to be 2.5 million.

National roll-out

Motsoaledi announced that the KwaZulu-Natal government's Sukuma Sakhe campaign would be rolled out nationally.

The campaign has seen the establishment of "war rooms" in many of the wards of the province. They are places where various sectors of the community, including church and civil society groups, government officials, and individuals come together in a bid to resolve problems affecting that community.

"Sukuma Sakhe must be taken from KwaZulu-Natal to each province. It must be a national programme," he said.

UNAids executive director Michel Sidibe praised the country's efforts to eliminate the disease, saying the country had moved from being in denial to achievement.

"You are not just waiting for people to come and help you. You are sharing responsibility," he said.

Motlanthe said: "It is encouraging to see the success that has emanated from the concerted effort to implement a comprehensive programme through the Sukuma Sakhe model."

He said information from the UNAids report would inform the government on how to refine or implement new programmes to tackle the disease. He warned that while progress was being made, more needed to be done.

Read more on:    unaids  |  kgalema motlanthe  |  aaron motsoaledi  |  health  |  hiv/aids

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