With 1,500 Infected Each Day, South Africa Gets AIDS Plan
March 14, 2007
South Africa today launched its National Strategic Plan, which intends to cut new HIV infections by 50 percent and bring treatment and support to at least 80 percent of HIV-positive people by 2011. Women will be a key focus: The new plan aims to accelerate programs to empower women and educate men on women's rights.
Research released today shows that 1,500 South Africans are infected with HIV every day, and that women account for 90 percent of all recent HIV infections in the 15-24 age group.
Health analysts hope the country is undergoing a basic shift in its official approach to HIV/AIDS, which infects some 5.5 million of the country's 47 million people and kills an estimated 1,000 South Africans every day. Although South Africa has one of the world's largest public ARV programs, with more than 200,000 patients already enrolled and up to one million expected to receive treatment by 2011, many have questioned the government's commitment to fighting the pandemic.
Much of the hope around South Africa's new HIV/AIDS strategy has been fueled by the fact that Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka has been named the country's top official on HIV policy, replacing Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, who is now on sick leave. AIDS activists have praised Mlambo-Ngucka for her willingness to take a fresh approach to the epidemic.
Last week, government officials said the new plan had a preliminary budget of about $3.3 billion, but other estimates have put the cost as high as $6 billion. "Government's willingness to dig deep into its pockets will be the litmus test of commitment," Johannesburg's influential Business Day newspaper said in an editorial.
03.14.07; Andrew Quinn
This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.