EAST LONDON - Almost half the patients tested recently for
HIV/Aids at Frere Hospital in East London and 35% of patients
in the tuberculosis ward at Umtata General hospital were shown
to be HIV-positive.
These figures were released by the Eastern Cape department of
health on Tuesday.
Department spokesperson Sizwe Kupelo said 323 people were tested
for HIV in May at Frere Hospital.
"Out of this number, 123 tested positive. In June, 287 were
tested -- 140 tested positive."
Kupelo said patients in most provincial hospitals were reluctant
to be tested and even testing pregnant women at the Cecilia
Makiwane and Frere hospitals was difficult.
Most patients refused to undergo tests to determine whether
unborn babies were in danger of being infected with the virus.
Statistics from other hospitals in the province could not be
In a bid to bring the situation under control, the health
ministry has identified several hospitals where special wards
would be opened to treat chronic diseases including HIV/Aids.
Aids activist Trudy Thomas challenged the government to provide
anti-retrovirals "as soon as possible" as HIV/Aids was becoming a
serious problem throughout the Eastern Cape.
She also advised government to improve the services provided to
Hospitals were not coping with the size of the pandemic, Thomas
"Most hospitals cannot respond to the high demand for
anti-retrovirals. And counselling of patients is unsatisfactory
-- nurses and other service providers are still not properly
About half of all paediatric deaths in the province were
Aids-related, she said.
SA Coalition Against HIV/Aids co-ordinator in the former
Transkei, Khaya Mhlaba, said people's reluctance to undergo tests
resulted in many dying of Aids-related illnesses without knowing
their HIV status.
He blamed nurses for discriminating against HIV-positive people
and challenged the government to give nurses proper training.
Responding to last week's announcement regarding anti-retroviral
provision, Mhlaba said he had no confidence in the Health
Cabinet announced it has asked the department to prepare a plan
for the provision of Aids drugs by next month.
"The Eastern Cape is always the last to benefit from government
services," he said.