Treating HIV-Positive South Africans More Cost-Effective Than Not Providing Medications, TAC Says
Treating people with HIV/AIDS is more cost effective than not providing them with medications because "if you manage HIV properly, it would cut costs and have social benefits," Mark Heywood, secretary of the Treatment Action Campaign, said yesterday in Johannesburg, the South African Press Association reports. Heywood, speaking at a media briefing on an HIV/AIDS congress that is to take place in Durban later this week, said that TAC's experts are testing the thesis and "looking at hard figures to support it." HIV and opportunistic infections such as tuberculosis should be treated and diagnosed earlier, Heywood said, adding that HIV-positive individuals should also receive "aggressive" counseling and nutrition guidelines. Earlier treatment would result "in lower health costs, less sick adults and less AIDS orphans," he continued. "The truth is that HIV[-positive] people are pushing other sick people out of hospitals. We must start lifting that burden of[f] our healthcare system," TAC Chair Zackie Achmat said. TAC has set up a special research committee of auditors and economic specialists to examine the theory that it would be cheaper to treat people living with HIV/AIDS than it would be "to ignore the problem." Heywood said that a report on the idea will be released within the next two months. The goal of the congress on HIV/AIDS later this week is to create a National Treatment Plan for HIV/AIDS to be presented to the National Economic Development and Labor Council. About 750 people, including Health Department Director General Dr. Ayanda Ntsaluba and Chief Director of HIV/AIDS Dr. Nono Simelela, are expected to attend (South African Press Association, 6/24).This is part of the Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.