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