More infected people to access ART

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Pretoria - By the end of the 2010/2011 financial year, 74 926 people infected with HIV and AIDS in Limpopo will have access to ART treatment.

Tabling the provincial health budget of R10.5 billion, MEC for Health and Social Development Miriam Segabutla announced that access to ART sites will be increased from 66 to 106, targeting 74 926 people.

The department will also be implementing new guidelines on management of patients with HIV and AIDS, as from 1 April 2010.

This follows the announcement by President Jacob Zuma during World AIDS Day that all HIV positive pregnant women with a CD4 count less than 350 will start taking ARVs irrespective of AIDS defining symptoms.

"Children born of HIV positive women will also be put on ARVs and will be reviewed on a six-monthly basis," Segabutla said, adding that all health facilities were currently providing PMTCT dual therapy.

In strengthening the referral system and improve the TB cure rate, Segabutla announced that the department will implement the Tracer Team Project to work with communities.

"HIV counselling and testing has been provided to 87 percent of the registered TB patients and this number will continue to increase," she said.

The budget for TB MDR services has been increased from R71 million to R145 million.

In a bid to reduce infant and child mortality rate, Segabutla reiterated the department's commitment to reduce the rate through preventative measures and continues to implement the Expanded Program on Immunization.

"The plan is to increase the current coverage from 83.5 percent to 90 percent," she said, while encouraging mothers and communities to bring children to health facilities for immunisation.