AIDS council adopts National Strategic Plan for HIV, TB

19 April 2013
Business Day

A NATIONAL Strategic Plan for HIV, tuberculous (TB) and sexually transmitted infections has been adopted on Friday, during South African National Aids Council (Sanac) meeting in Secunda, Mpumalanga, which was chaired by Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe.

The National Strategic Plan has a target to have 3-million people on antiretroviral (ARV) treatment by 2015. South Africa currently has 1.9-million people on treatment.

The plan also aims to eliminate the transmission of HIV infection from mother to child by 2015 and to reduce AIDS-related maternal deaths. The country has in the recent past seen significant 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%. There was a leap in the percentage of HIV-infected women receiving ARV therapy between 2011 and 2012, from 87.3 % to 99%.

Similarly, 99 % of all infants born to HIV-infected women receive prophylactic ARV medication to reduce the risk of early mother-to-child HIV transmission in the first six weeks.

In this plan "Sanac aims to reduce TB incidence and mortality caused by TB in people living with HIV by 50 % in 2015", read the statement from the council.

Sanac also approved plans to launch an HIV prevention programme aimed at sex workers. Details of the project were, however, not released with the council saying it would do so closer to the launch.

The National Strategic Plan is one of the many plans the government is implementing. Early, this month, Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi announced the introduction of fixed-drug combination ARV therapy.

Patients living with both HIV and TB, have started being treated on the new therapy.

Fixed-drug combination therapy is a combination of three crucial antiretroviral 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.