Radical Aids plan for W Cape

2009-09-18 09:55

Cape Town – Plans are under way to have all people who present themselves at public health institutions in the Western Cape automatically tested for HIV/Aids, unless they categorically refuse.

Western Cape MEC for health, Theuns Botha, said on Thursday at the St Luke's Hospice's annual review in Kenilworth that his department was looking at doing away with voluntary testing and counselling for HIV/Aids (VTC testing).

He made it clear that nothing was on paper yet, and that this was only an option being discussed to lessen the load on health services in the provinces.

"(We are doing this) because we have a responsibility towards our people," said Botha.

He said they would even defend such a plan in court if they had to.

Relieve the load on health services

According to the Human Sciences Research Council's national HIV survey announced earlier this year, the Western Cape had an HIV rate of 5.3%.

Botha emphasised that active attempts had to be made to relieve the load on health services in the province in a more preventative manner.

He also said they were considering raising the CD4 count determining when people should receive HIV/Aids treatment from 200 to 350, as it was currently not cost-effective.

He said such a move would cost the department an additional R53m, but that the money would have to be found from somewhere.

Programmes being expanded

Botha said the Western Cape was the only province where Aids treatment programmes were still being expanded.

"Between 1 500 and 2 000 additional patients are each month given Aids treatment."
Botha said earlier in his budget speech that a financing deficit of R60m from the national government for HIV/Aids in the province was expected for the financial year 2009-10.

The Western Cape has the lowest incidence of HIV/Aids in the country.