SA sets target for adults who know their status

Monday, March 9, 2009

Pretoria - The Department of Health hopes to increase the percentage of adults who have had an HIV test from 25 percent to 35 percent this year.

Health Minister Barbara Hogan, who encouraged people to go and get tested, told a social cluster media briefing on Monday, that currently 93 percent of primary health facilities were able to provide counselling and testing

"HIV and AIDS continues to be among the biggest public health challenge facing us, however, we wish to encourage everyone to 'know your status', this will contribute to risk avoidance as well as improving treatment seeking behaviour," she said.

The number of people tested for HIV, excluding pregnant women, is 2 430 300. Of this number, more than 690 775 patients have been initiated on Anti-Retroviral Treatment (ARV) since the commencement of the programme.

The minister noted that the moratorium on initiating new patients on ARV treatment in the Free State due to a shortage of funds, had been lifted.

The Free State Department of Health had placed a moratorium on the provision of ARVs to new patients in the province, except for pregnant women, due to budgetary constraints and an escalation in costs.

Only seven of the 28 ARV centres in the Free State are still without the drugs after a shipment of the drug to the value of R8.719 million arrived in the province on 11 February. USAID was able to contribute R11.2 million.

Last week she described the situation as regrettable.

"Seldom has any people working in the health sector ever been faced with such a difficult decision to say they could not allow new patients onto ARVs. The level of stress that we witness here is indicative of just how serious the situation is," the minister said at the time.