SA expands ARV treatment

Thursday, July 19, 2012

"We have significantly increased the number of new patients on ARV treatment - an additional 300 000 patients on treatment - between 2010 and 2011," said Motswaledi at the launch of the UNAIDS 2012 Global Aids Report on Thursday.

The minister noted that there was a rapid decline in new infections, most notably in children.

The report, entitled "Together we will end Aids" states that low- and middle-income countries invested $8.6 billion for the HIV and AIDS response in 2011, an increase of 11% from 2010.

According to the report, 81 countries increased their domestic investments for Aids by more than 50% between 2006 and 2011. As economies in low- and middle-income countries grow, domestic public investments for AIDS have also grown.

"Clearly, the continent is doing much to deal decisively with the twin epidemics of HIV and TB," Motswaledi said.

Motsoaledi noted that 60% of people living with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa were women and girls.. The minister said access to education for girls, keeping girl children in school for as long as possible and empowerment of women in other ways were critical in the fight against the epidemic.

"Given that TB is a twin of HIV, we also need to pay more attention to TB, especially with the finding that more than 80% of people living with HIV and TB live in sub-Saharan Africa," Motswaledi said.

According to the report, domestic public spending in sub-Saharan Africa (not including South Africa) increased by 97% over the last five years. South Africa already spends more than 80% from domestic sources and has quadrupled its domestic investments between 2006 and 2011.

BRICS countries - Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa - increased domestic public spending on HIV by more than 120% between 2006 and 2011. BRICS countries now fund, on average, more than 75% of their domestic Aids responses, according to the report.

In 2010, UNAIDS reported that at least 56 countries had either stabilised or achieved significant declines in rates of new HIV infections. This trend has been maintained and new HIV infections have fallen by nearly 20% in the last 10 years worldwide.

New global data shows that 2.5 million people were newly infected with HIV, 100 000 fewer than the 2.6 million new infections in 2010.

Motswaledi said while 2012 report paints a good picture, more work to be done.

"This means that we must still ensure that sufficient domestic and global resources are mustered to deal with the epidemic," he said.

The report also outlines the significant progress that has been made in reducing new HIV infections in children. Since 2009, new infections in children have fallen by an estimated 24%. Some 330 000 children were newly infected in 2011, almost half than at the peak of the epidemic in 2003 (570 000).

Sustaining the Aids response will require strong country ownership and global solidarity, stresses the report. It also emphasises the need for investments to be sustainable and predictable and that countries must be able to mobilise and use resources effectively and efficiently.