Jul 3, 2013 | Press Release

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DATE: 19 April 2013

Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe on Friday, 19 April 2013, chaired a plenary meeting o the South African National Aids Council in Secunda, Mpumalanga province. The meeting noted continuing progress that South Africa is making in the fight against HIV and TB.

The South African National Aids Council adopted plans to implement the new National Strategic Plan for HIV, TB and STIs. Building on the success of the HCT campaign, which saw the highest number of South Africans taking HIV test and screening for TB, the new plan will intensify programmes aimed at prevention, treatment and de-stigmatisation of people living with HIV.

A new campaign will be launched this year to encourage South Africans to test for HIV at least once a year.
Testing for HIV is vital as it is the only way to find out if you have HIV or not. If you test positive for HIV, there is help available and you will be in a position to receive treatment. If you are found to be HIV-negative, you will be counselled on how to continue avoiding HIV infection.

SANAC noted yet another milestone in the country’s response to HIV and AIDS. Early, this month, the Health Minister announced the introduction of fixed drug combination (FDCs) anti-retroviral therapy.
New patients initiated on ARV treatment, pregnant and breast-feeding women, patients living with both HIV and TB, have started being initiated on FDC therapy. FDC therapy is a combination of three crucial anti-retroviral medications in one tablet, taken only once a day. This eliminates the need for patients to take three or more pills at various intervals per day.

The Department of Health advised that not everyone will have access to this newly-launched treatment immediately. Those who are already on treatment still need to continue with their combination treatment as they have always taken it until after July 2013.
SANAC hopes that through this and the revitalisation of the HCT campaign, the health system will catch more people who need treatment. The National Strategic Plan (NSP) for HIV , TB and STIS (2012 – 2016) has a target to have three (3) million people on ARV treatment by 2015. Currently, there are 1.9 million people on treatment.
Another target of the NSP is to eliminate the transmission of HIV infection from mother to child by 2015 and to reduce AIDS-related maternal deaths. Over the past few years there have been encouraging changes in the rate of mother-to-child HIV transmission. Between 2008 and 2012, the rate of mother-to-child HIV transmission dropped from 8 % to 2.7 %. Between 2011 and 2012, the percentage of HIV-infected women receiving anti-retroviral therapy leapt from 87.3 % to 99%. Similarly, almost all – 99 % – of all infants born to HIV-infected women receive prophylactic anti-retroviral medication to reduce the risk of early mother-to-child HIV transmission in the first six weeks.

TB infection still remains a challenge. It is a well-established fact that the majority of people living with HIV are co-infected with TB. In this current NSP,SANAC aims to reduce TB incidence and mortality caused by TB in people living with HIV by 50 % in 2015.
The role of civil society in the South African National AIDS Council has been strengthened. A Civil Society Forum , an advisory body to the civil society sectors within SANAC, was formed late last year with new leaders elected. This structure aims to facilitate and maximise the participation of NGOs and other civil society networks, including those representing people living with HIV and AIDS. The Forum will meet four times a year to review progress of civil society participation and to share resources and information.
SANAC also approved plans to launch an HIV prevention programme aimed at sex workers. Further details of the programme will be released closer to the launch. Sex workers are one of the groups at high risk of contracting HIV that needs targeted interventions.

Issued by: Khopotso Bodibe, SANAC Communications Manager
Tel: 012 395 9675
Cell: 082 495 4158