Marcus Low

Lifelong ARVs for pregnant women, says Health Minister

All pregnant, HIV positive women will go onto lifelong antiretroviral treatment from January, Health Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi announced in his health budget vote yesterday.
 
In addition, people with HIV will start treatment when their CD4 count, which measures immunity, drops to 500 not 350 as at present.
 
Currently, pregnant HIV-positive women with a CD4 count over 350 only receive ARVs during pregnancy and breastfeeding to prevent mother-to-child HIV transmission.
 
Next month, the health department will also launch MomConnect, an SMS service for pregnant women, which will send mothers-to-be health messages relevant to their stage of pregnancy.

HIV/AIDS pills at early stage ‘unwise’

Health activists and top doctors have questioned the wisdom of Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi’s announcement on Wednesday that the government plans to start treating HIV/AIDS patients earlier, saying it will further strain already overstretched clinics and hospitals.
 
Current guidelines say treatment with antiretroviral medicines should begin when an HIV/AIDS patient’s CD4 count falls below 350. From January 1, that threshold would rise to 500, said the minister, as he delivered his budget vote speech to Parliament.

There’s a hole in the middle of our AIDS programme

There is a big hole in the middle of South Africa’s HIV treatment programme that is undermining government’s remarkable achievements since 2009, when AIDS denialist President Thabo Mbeki was kicked out.

This hole is called medicine stock-outs. It is caused mainly by poor management, and no matter how good our national programme and health minister are, unless the implementers – the provinces – can improve health service delivery, we will not only fail to overcome HIV but we stand to develop a monster called drug-resistant HIV.

Staying alive: Is South Africa's Aids plan working?

South Africa has one of the world's highest HIV rates but for many years was accused of ignoring the problem. Two years ago, President Jacob Zuma introduced some radical changes to the country's Aids policy. To marks World Aids Day, the BBC's Pumza Fihlani in Johannesburg asks what has changed.

Moses Sechedi lives in Soweto, one of South Africa's biggest townships.

Outside the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital - the largest hospital in Africa - Mr Sechedi, 62, tells me that he has seen the benefits of the new policy.

"A few months ago, my younger sister became gravely ill and we rushed her to hospital. After a number of tests the doctor told us she had Aids," he says.

Why HIV is still winning

In one sense, the fight against HIV sounds painfully simple: just get people to stop having unprotected sex. Making this happen, though, is proving extremely complicated. From prostitution in informal settlements, to misleading statements by our leaders, and the dangerous consequences of men having multiple wives and lovers, the factors driving the sexual transmission of HIV are many and varied.