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
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.
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
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
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
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
ideal that we should all
These are sobering
continue to strive for,
statistics, but they
together. Acting Director-General Donald Liphoko.
Public Sector Manager • December 2016 / January 2017