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MESSAGE FROM THE ACTING DIRECTOR-GENERAL

Turning the tide

belie the steady progress that South Africa has made in combatting the

against HIV and AIDS

W

epidemic. Gover nment has played a significant role in this fight and has also stepped in to bring down the

orld Aids Day on 1 December was an opportunity

cost of treatment. In July, Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi

to reflect on the strides South Africa has made in

told the International AIDS Conference in Durban that the

the fight against HIV and AIDS.

price of ARV drugs had been reduced from about R10 000 a

For one, there has been a drop in the number of new HIV

person per year to around R1 728 per person, which South

infections from more than 500 000 in 2004, to about 380 000

Africa was able to lobby for from manufacturers. This has

in 2015. The rate of babies being born with HIV decreased

been reduced even further with the introduction of single-

significantly from eight percent in 2008 to 2.6 percent in

dose ARV treatment.

2013.

Among the present challenges, is the high prevalence

In addition, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/

of HIV among learners and girls in particular. To address

AIDS (UNAIDS) estimates that AIDS-related deaths have fallen

this, the Department of Basic Education has increased its

by a third over three years – from 270 000 in 2012 to 180 000

focus on educating learners about HIV and AIDS. In May,

in 2015. A lot of this is down to improved treatment.

the department approved a national policy on HIV, STIs and

South Africa runs one of the biggest HIV treatment programmes in the world.

TB, while the Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa launched a campaign for girls and young women in June.

The National Treasury noted in October that South Africa’s

In addition, government’s latest five-year National Strategic

antiretroviral (ARV) treatment programme now reaches 3.5

Plan to tackle the epidemic includes a target to reduce new

million people (about a fifth of those on treatment globally,

HIV infections by at least 50 percent using a combination of

according to UNAIDS). This is up from 400 000 in

prevention approaches.

2004. More than 12 million people were

It will be backed by a significant increase in ARV therapy

tested for HIV in 2015.

expected, with the Department of Health having adopted

Millions across the world

a new World Health Organisation approach in September

have lost their lives as result

which will initiate treatment in all age groups regardless

of AIDS-related illnesses over

of CD4 count.

the years. Some estimate

It’s hoped that these will contribute to the National

this figure to be about 35

Development Plan’s goal of increasing life expectancy

million.

to at least 70 years by 2030, from the current 61 years.

Globally, 36.7 million people

Added to this, scientists at the Medical Research

were living with HIV by the end of 2015, with seven million of these in South Africa, according to

Council are to launch a ground-breaking Antibody Mediated Prevention study, the biggest in seven years, in a bid to find a cure for

UNAIDS.

the disease. At least 5 000 patients

In 2015, about 1.1 million

will be enrolled on the vaccine.

people died of AIDS-

It is only through concerted

related illnesses, about

effort that we can meet the

15 percent of these

UN’s goal of an AIDS-free

deaths were in South

world by 2030. It’s a worthy

Africa.

ideal that we should all

These are sobering

continue to strive for,

statistics, but they

together. Acting Director-General Donald Liphoko.

8

Public Sector Manager • December 2016 / January 2017


PSM December/January Edition 2016/2017