Bekkersdal - The Gauteng Department of Health has opened another health centre dedicated to serving people infected with HIV and AIDS in Bekkersdal and Westonaria in the West Rand.
The Comprehensive Care, Management and Treatment site for HIV, the 66th opened by government thus far, opened its doors on Thursday.
Speaking at the event, Gauteng MEC for Health Brian Hlongwa said the department had reaffirmed its commitment to ensuring that quality health services were accessed by ordinary people where they lived.
The communities of Bekkersdal and Westonaria were previously forced to travel long distances in order to access Anti-Retroviral Treatment (ART) at the Leratong Hospital. Many would end up spending the whole day in the hospital just to collect their treatment.
M Hlongwa said that it was a sad fact that the area also had a high HIV infection rate. He encouraged the families of patients on the ART programme and urged patients to take treatment everyday and on time.
"Promotion of healthy living, healthy lifestyles and good nutrition can never be divorced from an integrated response to HIV and AIDS, one needs a strong body to improve the body's resistance to this virus," he said.
Last week, Mr Hlongwa announced that the department would be increasing the number of patients on its ART programme as well as opening three additional health facilities by the end of April.
He said the number of patients on treatment would be increased to 200 000 from 65 health facilities, which were currently providing treatment in the province since 2004.
Mr Hlongwa said since 2004, more than 165 000 people were on ART of whom 14 500 were children.