HIV testing progress in Gauteng

About 340,000 people have taken part in Gauteng's HIV-testing campaign since it started in April, the provincial health department said.

This made the province the leader in the number of people tested so far at public health facilities, spokesman Mandla Sidu said in a statement.

The department aimed to test 3.3 million people by June 2011, part of its efforts to encourage healthy living, for people to know their HIV status and check for TB, diabetes and high blood pressure. People's fear was the department's main problem.

"People do not want to be tested because they are fearful they will receive a death sentence from this disease," Sidu said.

The department also planned to increase the number of antiretroviral treatment sites from around 140 to 200 at clinics by the end of the week. Currently more than 303,000 patients, including 22,830 children, were on ARV treatment in the province.

To qualify for ARV treatment, a person had to have a white blood cell count of less than 200 per cubic millimetre of blood, also known as a CD4 count.

A person co-infected with HIV and TB had to have a CD4 count of less than 350. All pregnant mothers with HIV were eligible for treatment at 14 weeks. All HIV-positive babies and children were also eligible. (Sapa/July 2010)

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