04 August 2008

Over 500 000 in SA on ARTs

At least 510 000 in SA have enrolled for the Anti-Retroviral Treatment, heard the International Aids Conference in Mexico.

At least 510 000 South Africans enrolled for the Anti-Retroviral Treatment (ART), Deputy Minister of Social Development said on Sunday.

South Africans living with HIV/Aids can access comprehensive health services in more than 420 service points in 53 health districts, said Jean Swanson-Jacobs at the opening of a SA Exhibition Stall XVII International Aids Conference in Mexico.

She said government's National Strategic Plan five-year period was striving towards a 50 percent reduction of new HIV infections.

Swanson-Jacob said eight million children orphaned and affected by the pandemic received social assistance through a child support grant from government.

More effort needed
"Through this intervention many of these children have been removed from dire situations of poverty and neglect," said Swanson-Jacobs. However, she said there was still a lot of work to be done ahead.

"Too many people are still trapped in poverty with poor access to education, services infrastructure, water and sanitation," she said.

The high number of people estimated to be living with HIV/Aids implied that many would be in treatment for a long time, said Swanson-Jacob.

She also highlighted the need for cheaper drugs, cheaper diagnostic tools. Swanson-Jacob also called for the need to make HIV prevention more effective. – (Sapa, August 2008)

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Dr Sindisiwe van Zyl qualified at the University of Pretoria in 2005. She is a patients' rights activist and loves using social media to teach about HIV. She is in private practice in Johannesburg.

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