Updated 20 July 2016

ARVs now for anyone with HIV - Motsoaledi

Any HIV positive person will be able to get antiretroviral medicine irrespective of their CD4 count by September.


Any HIV positive person will be able to get antiretroviral medicine irrespective of their CD4 count by September.

Treasury has allocated an extra R1bn to finance this “universal test and treat” (UTT) programme, Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi announced during his Budget speech in Parliament on Tuesday.

The total health budget for 2016/17 is R183.6-bn, but there has been no increase in allocation to the National Health Insurance (NHI) although the minister stressed that government was committed to its introduction.

Read: WHO guidelines recommend early ARVs for all with HIV

“There isn’t a pot of gold for the NHI. It requires reorganising money that is already there,” said Motsoaledi, adding that employers got around R16bn in tax incentives for staff medical aid subsidies while around medical schemes had around R43bn in reserves.

Government decided to adopt UTT after research showed that it would save money in the long term, mainly because it radically reduces the chance of an HIV positive person passing the virus to others when they are on treatment and their viral loads are undetectable.

The health department has also launched an application that anyone can download to address medicine stock-outs.

Read: Sex workers to get HIV treatment, ARVs

About 60% of all clinics have already started to use the stock visibility system, which monitors medicine stocks.

Patients who download the app and experience stockouts can simply press a button and notify Pretoria, said Motsoaledi.

He added that he had started to negotiate with Roche, which produces the breast cancer medicine Herceptin, to try to reduce its price.

It currently costs R500 000 for a year’s treatment.

Government is also launching a three-year campaign focusing on young women, aimed at reducing HIV, teen pregnancy and gender-based violence. – Health-e News

Read more:

Symptoms of HIV/Aids

Prevention of HIV infection

Treating HIV/Aids

Health-e News is South Africa’s award-winning dedicated health news service producing news and in-depth analysis for the country’s print and television media.


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HIV/Aids expert

Dr Sindisiwe van Zyl qualified at the University of Pretoria before working for an HIV/AIDS NPO in Soweto for many years. She was named one of the Mail & Guardian's Top 200 Young South Africans in 2012.

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