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SOUTH AFRICA: Treatment programme by numbers

JOHANNESBURG, 30 November 2012 (IRIN) - South Africa has recently made huge strides in HIV treatment, scaling-up the number of people on antiretroviral (ARV) drugs while also improving its national treatment guidelines.

IRIN/PlusNews offers a glimpse at what else the country has been working on:

2.7 - The percentage of babies born to HIV-positive mothers who contract the virus. In 2008, eight percent of babies born to HIV-positive mothers contracted HIV. Four years later, the country has announced that the rate of mother-to-child HIV infections had fallen to under three percent. The country has also moved to adopt the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Option B, under which all HIV-positive expectant mothers will get triple ARV therapy while pregnant and breastfeeding, regardless of their CD4 count (a measure of immune health).

3,000 - The number of public health facilities where treatment is available. In February 2010, 490 additional facilities were accredited to dispense ARVs. Less than two years later, this figure now stands at 3,000, although steady supply of ARVs remain a problem, with stock-outs being reported in Gauteng and the Eastern Cape provinces.

10,000 - The number of nurses certified to initiate ARV treatment. To deal with its scarcity of doctors and expand access to HIV treatment, the country moved to introduce a cadre of ARV-initiating nurses in 2010. In its first year, the country trained 250 nurses on starting and managing ARV patients; the number has since ballooned.

1.7 million - The number of HIV patients on treatment this year, according to the South African government. South Africa introduced earlier treatment in 2011, allowing HIV-positive people to access treatment at the higher CD4 count of 350. This move brought the country in line with the latest WHO recommendations. A year later, the country also introduced its first three-in-one combination ARV for the low cost of about US$10 per patient per year.

20 million - The number of people who have been tested for HIV. In April 2010, Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi and President Jacob Zuma launched a national voluntary HIV counselling and testing campaign, with a goal of testing 15 million people over 12 months. The Department of Health now estimates that 20 million South Africans have since been tested. Of these, two-thirds were women and about five percent were children.

$672 million - The price of the country’s 2012 antiretroviral tender. After years of paying some of the world’s highest prices for antiretrovirals (ARVs), the Department of Health, with the help of the Clinton Health Access Initiative, did a price comparison of ARVs globally and increased competition, leading to the negotiation of a better tender in 2010. This cut the price of treatment for the country by about 50 percent, saving the country about $523 million. In the 2012 tender, the country saved about $251 million.

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Theme(s): Care/Treatment - PlusNews, Health & Nutrition, HIV/AIDS (PlusNews),

[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]