South Africa Proposes Five-Year Plan To Reduce New HIV Cases, Increase Treatment Access
The South African government on Wednesday proposed a five-year plan that aims by 2011 to reduce the number of new HIV cases in the country by 50% and to provide at least 80% of HIV-positive people with access to antiretroviral treatment, Reuters South Africa reports (Quinn, Reuters South Africa, 3/14). The plan was submitted at a two-day conference in Boksburg, South Africa, that brought together political and business leaders and HIV/AIDS advocates to discuss approaches to implementing the plan. According to the plan, poor coordination and a lack of clear targets and monitoring have contributed to HIV/AIDS being a primary cause of premature death in South Africa, the AP/Houston Chronicle reports. It adds that HIV/AIDS mortality rates increased by about 79% from 1997 to 2004, with a higher increase among women. "There are still too many people living with HIV, too many still getting infected," the report said, adding that the "impact on individuals and households is enormous" and that mother-to-child transmission rates are high. According to the plan, South Africa needs to better address HIV/AIDS-related stigma, which prevents many people from getting tested. The country also needs to increasingly involve the business community in the fight against HIV/AIDS, the report said, adding that the disease has had a negative impact on productivity and the country's workforce. To reach the target of reducing new HIV cases by 50% by 2011, the plan calls for increased efforts to empower women in South Africa and to encourage people to receive HIV tests. In addition, more should be done to promote behavior change among the country's youth, according to the report. It adds that improved coordination of HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis control efforts is needed, especially in light of the outbreak of extensively drug-resistant TB in the country (Jacobson, AP/Houston Chronicle, 3/14). The plan also recommends that the role of the South African National AIDS Council be strengthened. SANAC in May 2006 called on the country's Department of Health to draw up the plan. According to the SAPA/Mail and Guardian, the plan will be finalized at the conference and approved at the launch of a restructured SANAC at the end of March (SAPA/Mail and Guardian, 3/14). Government officials last week said that the plan has a preliminary budget of about $3.3 billion, but other estimates have put the costs as high as $6 billion, Reuters South Africa reports (Reuters South Africa, 3/14). The report is available online. Note: You must have Abode Acrobat to open the report.This is part of the Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.