THE government has committed itself to increasing the budget allocation for HIV treatment next year to ensure that all those who need to be on antiretroviral treatment get it.
At present more than 900,000 people are receiving treatment but 500,000 more need to be on the programme.
Last year about 600,000 people were on ART. The number increased by 50 percent this year after President Jacob Zuma announced that women who are pregnant and HIV positive with a CD4 count of 350 or less have to be put on treatment.
Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe, in Vienna for the 18th International Aids Conference, said yesterday that the announcement was part of government efforts to intensify the fight against HIV- Aids.
Motlanthe said through advice from the South African National Aids Council and other stakeholders the government had committed itself to increasing the budget allocation for ARV drugs.
“South Africa has made progress when it comes to scaling up treatment but more work needs to be done,” he said. “We have expanded coverage rapidly and a drop in new HIV infection among young people has been reported. What we need to do now is ensure that people receiving treatment are maintained.”
South Africa is one of the few African countries that has lived up to the commitment made in Abuja, Nigeria, in 2001. African heads of state committed themselves to putting the fight against HIV in the forefront and as the highest priority issue in their national development plans.
The declaration also called for countries to allocate at least 15percent of their annual budget to health services.
“This country has done it and this year it has managed to invest 30percent more in its health services and the biggest portion of the money is dedicated to the fight against HIV-Aids,” Motlanthe said.
UNAids executive director Michel Sidibe praised the efforts made by South Africa in the fight against HIV.
“The country must be applauded for its efforts,” he said. “They have managed to scale up treatment and prevention. As a result HIV prevalence dropped among the youth in 15 of the highest burden countries.
“We need to continue to empower them with sexual education that builds life skills. Their energy and bold ideas have inspired me in Vienna.”