Activists push for grants
AIDS activists have welcomed the government's decision to increase the CD4 count threshold for obtaining anti-retroviral treatment and are now pushing for implementing the long-awaited chronic disability grant.
The government's national HIV-Aids plan, drafted two years ago, recommended that people with HIV be provided with a chronic disease grant to cover the cost of nutritious food, transport to clinics and medicines.
South African National Aids Council deputy chairperson Mark Heywood said: "It is clear that the government is committing itself to fighting HIV-Aids, and we welcome that.
"The move to increase the ARV threshold from 200 to 350 CD4 count is a good one.
"We are now calling for the urgent implementation of the chronic disability grant that was promised over two years ago."
Heywood said people were dying because they were taking medication on empty stomachs. "Some eventually default because ARVs eat you if your stomach is empty," he said.
Currently, the government offers a temporary disability grant of R1010 a month to seriously ill people who cannot work.
A person has to produce medical proof that they cannot work to qualify for the grant. The grant is given for six months, after which recipients must reapply.