Over seven million test for HIV

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Pretoria - Over seven million people have tested for HIV in the past 12 months, the South African National Aids Council (Sanac) announced on Friday.

The council said over nine million people have participated in the campaign, with over seven million tested for HIV, a figure they noted as "impressive", given that historically, counselling and testing rates reached only three million people annually.

Sanac was presenting a progress report on the countrywide implementation of the HIV, Counselling and Testing (HCT) campaign to a high level delegation - including Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe, Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi and Eastern Cape Premier Noxolo Kiviet - in East London.

The figure of more than seven million people tested does not include data of people who were tested in a large number of private health facilities, especially general practitioners in villages and townships. 

Most of those who tested positive are being initiated into treatment whilst others, depending on CD4 count, and are urged to regularly visit their health practitioners until such time that they are ready to start treatment, said Sanac.

The HCT campaign was launched in April last year by President Jacob Zuma as part of a nationwide initiative to get 15 million South Africans to know their HIV status.

The objectives of the campaign are to support people with key prevention interventions in order to take proactive steps towards a healthy lifestyle - irrespective of their HIV status; increase the incidence of health-seeking behavior, as well as increase access to treatment, care and support services.

The campaign is being intensified and expanded to schools, workplaces and religious sites, especially over the Easter period. 

Sanac said funding from the Global Fund for AIDS, TB and Malaria has been approved. 

During the meeting, a resolution was taken that Sanac's Resource Management Committee should be co-chaired by somebody living openly with HIV; that local production of female condoms should be investigated, and the representation of traditional leaders in Sanac be reviewed and strengthened.

The South African Medical Association has also been tasked to assist Sanac in collecting HIV and TB relevant data from the private sector. 

A high-level delegation will represent Sanac at a UN meeting in New York in June 2011. - BuaNews