Aids infects over1 000 a week
SA still lagging in UN goal set for 2025, says health minister.
Aids is alive and well, especially in KwaZulu-Natal, as new figures revealed about 1 300 people between the ages of 15 and 24 are weekly being infected by HIV there.
The infection rate poses a serious question about whether SA and its partners in the Global Alliance for Ending Aids in Children by 2030 will be able to achieve its goal.
SA lagging behind
Health Minister Dr Joe Phaahla warned SA was still lagging behind as a country in regards to meeting all of the targets set in respect to men, and children under 15 years of age.
Although strides have been made towards achieving the first 95% of the United Nations Aids 95-95-95 targets, there was a long way with the second and the third 95%, he said in a keynote address during the 11th South African Aids Conference in Durban.
Largest HIV epidemic in the world
Despite having the world’s largest anti-retroviral (ARV) treatment programme, SA also had the largest HIV epidemic in the world, with close to eight million South Africans living with HIV, about 5.5 million on ARV treatments and approximately two million undetected.
“We are currently at 94% of people living with HIV who know their status; 77% of those who know their status and are on anti-retroviral treatment and 92% of those on treatment who have a suppressed viral load,” Phaahla said.
“To achieve the 95-95-95 targets, we must initiate an additional 1.4 million people on treatment,” Phaahla said, with 2025 the deadline year. “We have to accelerate our efforts in the remaining two years in order to meet the targets.”
ALSO READ: HIV is still a big threat in Africa
However, health expert and private practitioner Dr Angelique Coetzee said despite the progress, SA was still behind on the 2025 goal. Only about 52% of children living with HIV had access to lifesaving treatment and it would be highly unlikely that SA would achieve the goal for 2025, she said.
“SA [is] very good in drafting of policies, but [fails] in implementing them,” Coetzee said. “There are good people trying to achieve the goals but understaffed clinics, long waiting and travelling time, stock-outs, stigma and poor treatment literacy a problem.”
Phaahla added the department needed to double their efforts and raise awareness about the disease.