Pretoria: South Africa’s antiretroviral (ARV) programme has significantly contributed to reducing new HIV infections and mortality from Aids, and has ensured child survival and prolonged life, according to Cabinet.
Briefing media during a post Cabinet briefing on Thursday, Minister in the Presidency responsible for Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation, Jeff Radebe, said South Africa has the largest ARV programme in the world, with three million people on ARVs as of December 2014.
Minister Radebe highlighted that diligent planning is a major part of the success of the flagship programme, which ensures adequate availability of ARVs at every public health facility.
He said South Africa, through the Department of Science and Technology (DST), has been investing in HIV research for many years.
“The DST’s investment in HIV research began in 1999 when together with the Department of Health, we established the South African Aids Vaccine Initiative.
“By 2009, the DST’s support for HIV research was expanded to include other interventions such as diagnostics, ARVs, microbicides, in addition to vaccines.
“We created the South African HIV Research and Innovation Platform (SHARP) to fund pioneering HIV and Aids research and facilitate the development of innovative solutions to the epidemic,” said Minister Radebe.
Government is currently supporting a number of HIV-related projects at various stages of development through a programme called the Strategic Health Innovation Partnership, which incorporates SHARP under the auspices of the South African Medical Research Council.
The role of the programme is to facilitate the interaction of South African HIV and Aids researchers, and to create a National Network of Collaborating Research Centres in HIV and Aids.
A number of multi-institutional, multidisciplinary, product development projects covering diagnostics, vaccines and microbicides, are currently being pursued to advance the objectives of SHARP.
“South Africa attaches particular importance to the fight against Aids, with prevention at the heart of the country’s National Strategic Plan for HIV, STIs and TB (2012-2016),” Minister Radebe said.
Meanwhile, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, as the Chairperson of the South African National AIDS Council, will next month address the opening of the 7th South African Aids Conference at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre in Durban.
The four-day conference to start from 9 to 12 June 2015 will be held under the theme: “Reflection, Refocus and Renewal”.
Held every two years, the conference has become a barometer for government and South Africans to track advances made in controlling HIV infections.
It also provides an opportunity for people working with HIV and Aids, Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) and Tuberculosis (TB) to share experiences and insights.
SOURCE: SOUTH AFRICAN OFFICIAL NEWS