Home > News > Public Health 04 April 2014 South Africa celebrates ten years of free HIV treatment It may have been a struggle to implement, but South Africa has been giving away free ARV's for over a decade. 0 iStock Related SA needs a combination of measures to prevent HIV Long-term HIV linked to heart disease in men HIV-positive inmates benefit from drug therapy Over the past 10 years South Africa has developed the largest HIV treatment program in the world, with over 2.4 million people regularly receiving the life-saving medication so far.The result of this is markedly increased life-expectancy and much lower levels of mother-to-child transmission rates of the illness.All of this nearly didn't happen, though. Free ARV treatment was the subject of a protracted battle between AIDS activists and the Government, Former President Thabo Mbeki and Health Minister Dr Manto Tshabalala-Msimang in particular. A study in Psychology Today estimated that 300 000 people died as a result of AIDS-denialism on the part of the government.Read: Health minister introduces colourful condoms In April 2004, the government conceded and the rollout of free ARV's began. Nowadays 3 in 10 ARV-taking people worldwide are in South Africa and the program has driven the country to the forefront in HIV research.The battle against HIV/AIDS is, however, far from over. One of the reasons South Africa treats the most people with the illness is because we also have the most people with the illness. The most recent estimate claims that over 6 million South African's, or 12.2% of the population, are currently living with HIV. Read: Sex in SA: Unfaithful and unsafeThe prevalence of the illness is much higher in women, especially in the 15-49 age group (23%) than in males (14.5%).The challenge facing South Africa now that treatment is widely available is to ensure it reaches as many of these 6 million infected citizens as it can. Testing is still poorly adhered to, especially amongst men, and this enables the disease to continue to spread. Additional problems such as the inability of the Gauteng and KZN governments to pay their pathology services are suggestive of a more systematic issue relating to SA's health system and one that could be much harder to fix.Read more:How is HIV diagnosed?5 myths about HIV/AIDSHIV and cancer Sources: Health-e/Cape Times/Psychology Today Harry Phillips More in News Friday as safe as any other day for surgery More: NewsPublic Health advertisement Read Health24’s Comments Policy Comment on this story 0 comments Comments have been closed for this article. Logout Comment 0 characters remaining Share on Facebook Loading comments... Other news Sex US STIs hit all-time high in 2015 Medical Human right-handedness might go back almost 2 million years Mental health Troubled childhood may boost bipolar risk Diet and nutrition Our genes may soon advise our food and lifestyle choices Lifestyle Which skin products are better, ‘medical grade’ or ‘over-the-counter’? Medical Don't believe these asthma myths From our sponsors Keep an eye on your vision Which skin products are better, ‘medical grade’ or ‘over-the-counter’? Win 1 of 6 R5000 cash prizes Win Skin Renewal voucher Live healthier Exercise benefits for seniors » Working out in the concrete jungle Even a little exercise may help prevent dementia Here’s an unexpected way to boost your memory: running Seniors who exercise recover more quickly from injury or illness When sedentary older adults got into an exercise routine, it curbed their risk of suffering a disabling injury or illness and helped them recover if anything did happen to them. No relief for MS » Drug shows promise against MS in mouse study Vitamin D may slow multiple sclerosis Obesity in girls tied to higher MS risk Exercise may not lower women's risk of MS A Harvard study showed no evidence to support the idea that exercise lowers the risk of multiple sclerosis.