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HIV/AIDS: Huge numbers
Kerry Cullinan
February 23, 2012
Health-e News Service - February 23, 2012

Last year alone, 376 000 people with HIV started antiretroviral medication - over 100 000 more than the previous year.

Sadly, during that same year up to 450 000 people were infected with HIV, mostly due to "the lack of a co-ordinated and effective prevention response".

These are some of the issues raised by the Health Systems Trust's SA Health Review 2011, which was launched yesterday in Pretoria.

Government's bill for HIV/AIDS is over R30-billion a year, according to Treasury officials Mark Blecher, Aparna Kollipara, Nomkhosi Zulu and academic Pieter de Jager.

The conditional grant for HIV/AIDS has increased by 44 percent a year, or R1.3-billion over the past three years.

But while the cost is high, the pay-off has been significant. Seven years ago, only seven percent of South Africans in need were on antiretroviral treatment but by the end of 2010, this figure had jumped to 84 percent.

By the end of March 2011, 1.46 million people were on ARVs. This number is expected to reach three million by 2015 The country's greatest success is the reduction of HIV positive pregnant mothers passing the virus to their babies from 10 percent to 3.5 percent transmission rate.

Tuberculosis, the biggest opportunistic infection to affect people with HIV, is also taking a chunk out of healthcare funding.

KwaZulu-Natal is particularly hard hit and will spend almost R900-million on TB hospitals this year, almost triple the next biggest spender, the Eastern Cape.

KZN had almost double the hospitalised patients of the Eastern Cape, with 124 626 registered patients.

By 2010, one in ten TB patients were dying - an increase of almost two percent in five years but one that health experts blame on the rise of drug-resistant TB.