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 NEXT ON HEALTH24X Jada Pinkett Smith reveals hair-loss battle – why does this happen? 2018-05-24 12:58 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 Medical Jada Pinkett Smith reveals hair-loss battle – why does this happen? Medical Baby with ‘water on the brain’ fights to stay alive Medical ‘Facing the possibility of death showed me the value of life’ Medical Could a universal flu vaccine soon be a reality? Diet and nutrition The world is getting fatter and fatter Lifestyle ‘I conquered my fear of heights by climbing to the top of a 15-metre high wall’ From our sponsors Win a R1 500 hamper with Alpecin Hypertension Consumer Fact Sheet Understanding diabetes self-management WIN a R2000 Skin Renewal voucher! Live healthier Mental health & your work » How open are you about mental illness in the workplace? Mental health in the workplace – what you can do to help If you know that one of your colleagues suffers from a mental illness, would you be able to help them at work? Maligay Govender offers some helpful mental health "first aid" tips. Sleep & You » Sleep vs. no sleep Diagnosis of insomnia 6 things that are sabotaging your sleep Kick these shut-eye killers to the kerb and make your whole life better – overnight.