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2003: Antiretroviral Treatment

Also see: Treatment

South Africa 's controversial AIDS treatment history over the past decade has resulted in considerable media focus and attention.

After years of withholding general antiretroviral treatment in the public health sector, arguing that the drugs were unaffordable and inappropriate, the SA Cabinet announced its approval of the SA National Department of Health's Operational Plan for Comprehensive HIV and AIDS Care, Management and Treatment for South Africa (1.9MB) in November 2003. The five-year plan provided for ARVs to be made available in the public health sector for the first time on a large scale.

The Cabinet announcement cited "favourable conditions", including falling drug prices and growing experience in fighting HIV/AIDS as reasons for the implementation of the plan at this stage.

Planned number of patients on antiretroviral treatment vs no. of new AIDS patients per year
Years ARVs Total Cases on ARVs (planned) Projected total new AIDS cases 1
2003/2004 53,000 53,000 388,701
2004/2005 138,315 188,665 462,841
2005/2006 215,689 381,177 530,658
2006/2007 299,516 645,740 586,181
2007/2008 411,889 1,001,534 624,720
1. Data from Table 16.1. Represents new AIDS cases per year and not a culmative total.

Source: SA National Department of Health, 2003. Operational Plan for Comprehensive HIV and AIDS Care, Management and Treatment for South Africa (1.9MB)

However, the government was not able to meet its own projections as set out in the table above. By March 2005 about 104,600 people (44,600 public sector; 60,000 private sector) were being treated with ARVs in South Africa, out of a WHO-estimated 837, 000 who needed the treatment (Dec 2004).

Also see: WHO "3 by 5" country profile on treatment scale up in South Africa (June 2005).

Wits Journalism Anova Health

The project is jointly managed by the Anova Health Institute and the Journalism and Media Studies Programme at the University of the Witwatersrand. The project is funded by by the Health Communication Partnership based at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Centre for Communication Programmes and the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS relief through the United States Agency for International Development under terms of Award No. JH/HESA-02-05 and through the Anova Health Institute through PEPFAR via USAID under Award No. AID-674-A-12-00015.