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International News

South African Health Minister: HIV Rates Declining

June 6, 2008

Citing the data as proof of the efficacy of the government's policies, South Africa's health minister on Thursday said HIV rates among pregnant women had dropped for the second consecutive year.

Among women accessing care at prenatal clinics, the proportion with HIV declined from 29.2 percent in 2006 to 28 percent in 2007, Manto Tshabalala-Msimang said. Among 25- to 29-year-old women overall, the percentage infected with HIV went from 38.7 in 2006 to 37.9 in 2007, she told Parliament.

"Taken together, these figures do indeed suggest that we have a trend of decreasing prevalence overall," she said, crediting "intensive prevention campaigns which are beginning to make a difference."

Following much delay, South Africa last year rolled out broad increases in treatment access. More than 450,000 people had initiated treatment as of the end of February, Tshabalala-Msimang said. This, however, is about half the number of patients who need the drugs.

The health minister called South Africa's treatment program "the largest in the world," which she said "contradicts those voices that suggest that this government is not concerned about treatment."

Tshabalala-Msimang's report drew a sharp response from Sandy Kalyan, health spokesperson for the opposition Democratic Alliance. "Your persistent denialism that the pandemic is escalating, and your constant flirtation with AIDS dissidents is a disgrace to your ministry," she said.

Back to other news for June 2008

Adapted from:
Associated Press
06.05.2008; Clare Nullis

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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.
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