South Africa expanding access to ARV therapy

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South Africa expanding access to ARV therapy

17 December 2010

South Africa has the world's largest population of people living with HIV; an estimated 5.6 million people in the country are living with HIV, representing nearly one sixth of the global disease burden. Credit: UNAIDS

South African Health Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi has announced that South Africa has successfully negotiated a range of price reductions for antiretroviral treatment in a bid to increase access to treatment for people living with HIV.

“It is my pleasure to announce the massive reduction in the prices of antiretroviral drugs which has resulted in the 53.1% reduction in the cost of the total tender,” said Dr Motsoaledi. “South Africa can now afford to treat twice as many people on ARVs compared to that which was previously budgeted.”

In a statement released on 14 December, the Health Minister announced that since World AIDS Day 2009, almost 5 million South Africans had been tested for HIV as part of the HIV Counselling and Testing campaign which was launched by President Zuma in April.

The campaign aims to test 15 million people for HIV by the year 2011, up from 2.5 million in 2009 – a six-fold increase in just two years. Of the 5 million people tested since the launch, over 900 000 were found to be HIV positive.

More people are finding out their status as testing is scaled up which is resulting in more people coming forward to access treatment. These price reductions are essential to ensuring that all people in need have timely access to the lifesaving medication.

Michel Sidibé, UNAIDS Executive Director

UNAIDS Executive Director, Michel Sidibé attended the launch in April and called for reductions in the price of antiretroviral drugs which were at least 25-30% higher than average international prices and posed a key challenge in South Africa’s efforts to expand treatment.

“This is a significant breakthrough for South Africa’s response to the epidemic,” said Mr Sidibé. “More people are finding out their status as testing is scaled up which is resulting in more people coming forward to access treatment. These price reductions are essential to ensuring that all people in need have timely access to the lifesaving medication.”

South Africa funds more than two thirds of its AIDS response. In 2010, South African leaders committed $1 billion US dollars to the AIDS response – a 30% increase over the previous year.

South Africa has the world's largest population of people living with HIV; an estimated 5.6 million people in the country are living with HIV, representing nearly one sixth of the global disease burden. Approximately 18% of adults in South Africa are infected with HIV.