High Cost of AIDS Fight Worries South African Health Minister
December 9, 2010
Despite the cost, South Africa must continue to fund the battle against HIV/AIDS, its health minister said in an interview marking World AIDS Day. "If we stop anything, it will just reverse all our gains," said Dr. Aaron Motsoaledi, noting that better decisions in the past would have lowered costs now.
Last year, President Jacob Zuma tacked sharply from his predecessor in announcing an ambitious HIV testing and treatment campaign. He tasked Motsoaledi with heading the initiative. Motsoaledi has been praised for his openness and energy by AIDS activists, who constantly clashed with former Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang. She publicly questioned the link between HIV and AIDS and promoted a diet of beetroot and garlic to treat the virus.
South Africa's challenges are significant: An estimated 5.7 million people in the country are believed to be HIV-infected. A report commissioned by the government concluded that under the HIV/AIDS initiative, $88 billion will be spent over the next two decades, with new infections dropping from 500,000 annually to around 350,000. A more ambitious plan costing $102 billion over the same timeframe could lower the number of new infections to fewer than 200,000 annually. But even under the best circumstances, South Africa will see another 5 million infections over the next 20 years, the researchers said. Motsoaledi said the report may be overly pessimistic.
South Africa covers the cost of 80 percent of its HIV/AIDS care and prevention programs. International donors pay the rest, often in direct payments to non-governmental organizations. Motsoaledi said private groups have told him they are struggling due to a decline in donor commitments, a situation blamed partly on the global recession.
Business Day (Johannesburg)
12.02.2010; Donna Bryson
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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