The 3.3 million South Africans on treatment for HIV will benefit from a ground-breaking web-based data system that monitors the viral load and CD4 count of registered patients.
The first national CD4-viral load monitoring dashboard, an online tool, was launched on Tuesday by the national department of health and is funded by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/Aids.
The dashboard displays and analyses data in a way that healthcare professionals involved in managing the epidemic can easily engage with. It provides information at a national, provincial, district, single facility and individual level, as well as for designated age groups.
Chief medical officer of Right to Care Dr Pappie Majuba said: “It is accessible to all implementing partners and will be used to evaluate the effectiveness of interventions to contain the HIV epidemic and to fast-track viral suppression in those receiving antiretroviral therapy.”
Pathologist at the National Health Laboratory Service (NHLS) Dr Sergio Carmona said: “The better we understand how patients are being managed, the better control we have of the epidemic.
“It will also help to swiftly allocate resources where needed, such as infrastructure, nurses and doctors, monitor ‘hot spots’ and expedite the right responses.”
The health department’s director-general, Yogan Pillay, said the programme was specifically developed for South Africa as it was one of the few countries with a national and integrated pathology service through NHLS.
“The dashboard uses data from South Africa’s national health laboratory service and from the national department of health information systems.”
It is estimated that there are nearly 6.75 million people infected with HIV in South Africa with 3.3 million on treatment and of those who have accessed viral load testing, more than 80%, are suppressed.