Cape way ahead in fight, with med­i­cal cir­cum­ci­sion ‘a high­light’

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS -

by the end of the fi­nan­cial year. The fig­ure is al­ready up sig­nif­i­cantly from the just over 90 000 peo­ple re­ceiv­ing ARVS at the be­gin­ning of the year.

Last year national Health Min­is­ter Aaron Mot­soaledi an­nounced that his depart­ment had ne­go­ti­ated bet­ter prices for ARV drugs in SA, a sav­ing for the coun­try of about R4.7 bil­lion.

Provin­cial health depart- ment spokes­woman Faiza Steyn said some first-line drugs had re­duced in price by as much as 45 per­cent.

But, on av­er­age, sav­ings of about 35 per­cent had been recorded.

Sev­eral HIV and Aids NGOS, in­clud­ing the TAC, have how­ever in­di­cated that the drugs re­quired be­yond the first line of treat­ment can be pro­hib­i­tively ex­pen­sive. Steyn said the rate fluc­tu­ated, but that be­tween July and Septem­ber this had been re­duced to 1.8 per­cent.

This is about half the national rate of 3.5 per­cent, the SA Med­i­cal Re­search Coun­cil said in June.

Some prov­inces, in­clud­ing Mpumalanga and the Free State, showed mother-to-child trans­mis­sion rates of up to 6 per­cent.

The an­nual National An­te­na­tal Sen­tinel HIV and Syphilis Preva­lence Sur­vey for 2010, re­leased this week, found a 30.2 per­cent national HIV preva­lence among preg­nant women.

In the Western Cape about 18 per­cent of preg­nant women are Hiv-pos­i­tive, ac­cord­ing to the study.

“We are work­ing ac­cord­ing to national guide­lines, but the suc­cesses (in curb­ing moth­erto-child trans­mis­sion) are due to ef­forts put into sys­tem strength­en­ing, staff to track pos­i­tive ba­bies and en­sure that mech­a­nisms are con­stantly be­ing im­proved upon, train­ing for all staff in in­fant feed­ing, and changes to the pre­ven­tion of mother- to- child trans­mis­sion pro­to­col,” Steyn said. Steyn said med­i­cal male cir­cum­ci­sion had not been rou­tinely prac­tised within the pub­lic health sec­tor.

How­ever, this year the prov­ince started to roll out its med­i­cal male cir­cum­ci­sion pro­gramme at many of its fa­cil­i­ties, a move Steyn lists as among the high­lights of this year’s HIV/AIDS pro­gramme in the prov­ince.

The Sonke Gender Jus­tice Net­work said: “Sonke strongly sup­ports med­i­cal male cir­cum­ci­sion as a mea­sure for pre­vent­ing HIV trans­mis­sion.

“This po­si­tion is in­formed by the in­creas­ing body of ev­i­dence which shows that med­i­cal male cir­cum­ci­sion can re­duce the chances of in­fec­tion by as much as 60 per­cent.”

The TAC said this week that SA had “al­most all the tools and poli­cies to fight HIV and TB”, but that what was now needed was “ac­count­abil­ity for im­ple­men­ta­tion”.

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