HIV, AIDS infection among Gauteng teenagers decline

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Pretoria - The Gauteng Department of Health and Social Development has confirmed the reduction of HIV and AIDS infections among teenagers and children.

The department stated on Friday that the infection in the young people aged 15 to 19 years declined by half from 2 percent to only 1 percent.

"Infections among young children between the ages of 2 and 14 have also declined to 2.2 percent due to the success of the prevention of mother to child transmission programme," the department maintained.

In maintaining the reduction of infection the department has developed plans to further improve its programme on HIV and AIDS this year.

These include training an additional 1 200 health workers in the comprehensive care, management and treatment.

It said greater focus will be given to children by reducing infections, expanding services for orphans including support for child-headed and youth-headed households.

Meanwhile, the department has further reported that the number of people seeking treatment for the disease from provincial public health facilities reached half a million last year as the stigma around the disease wanes and individuals see the benefits of antiretroviral therapy.

"The number of people assessed grew from 450 706 the previous year to 540 115 last year.

"The number of those who qualified and were put on treatment increased by 56 percent from 118 671 to 185 126. More than 16 000 of them were children," the department said.

The department added that the increase in the number of people assessed for treatment corresponds to the increase in the number of sites offering comprehensive care, management and treatment of the disease.

At the beginning of this year, there were 69 sites - hospitals and clinics - accredited to provide treatment.

Anti-retroviral therapy improves the quality of life of people living with HIV and AIDS enabling them to resume productive work and fulfill family responsibilities.

The department further explained that measures to prevent the spread of the disease were stepped up with the provision of more than 150 million male condoms and more than 1.2 million female condoms.

"More than 46 000 pregnant mothers were put on treatment to prevent the transmission of the virus to their unborn babies," the department stated.