South Africa's Department of Health is planning to request a boost in funding for HIV/AIDS treatment based on estimates of the number of people needing antiretroviral therapy, a senior health official said recently. The extra funds would be administered by DOH rather than through the provinces, said Kamy Chetty, the department's acting director-general.
In a budget statement introduced in Parliament, the Treasury Department added 5.5 billion rand (US $741 million) for DOH's antiretroviral treatment program over the next three years. The treasury's revised medium-term budget estimate would bring the conditional grant for treatment to a total of 19.2 billion rand (US $2.6 billion). However, DOH will need an estimated 4 billion more rand (US $539 million), bringing the total over three years to about 23 billion rand (US $3.1 billion). DOH proposes the extra funds be allocated as 2.6 billion rand (US $350 million) for next year, 3.1 billion rand (US $418 million) the following year and then 4 billion rand (US $539 million) the next year.
Chetty stressed that the proposals are still preliminary and based on estimates of patients needing treatment. Under current guidelines, HIV patients become eligible for treatment when their CD4 count falls to 200/cubic millimeter. DOH is studying a model that would initiate treatment earlier -- boosting the number of patients in treatment as well as the program's cost. DOH will still have to discuss its estimates with the Treasury Department, Chetty noted.
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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.