Western Cape Celebrates 100 000 ART Patients Milestone
Ten years since the establishment of the first ART clinic in South Africa, the Western Cape Government is taking a moment to reflect back on the days when HIV/AIDS was seen as a death sentence. In stark contrast, today 100 000 patients with a new lease on life are receiving Anti-Retroviral Treatment (ART) in the Western Cape.
On Tuesday, 26 July 2011, the Western Cape Department of Health will celebrate the achievement of having 100 000 patients on ART at the New Somerset Hospital. This incidentally is where the first ART clinic was established in South Africa. Theuns Botha, Western Cape Minister of Health, said: "Historically, the Western Cape has been the trendsetter in the fight to institute the use of anti-retrovirals at a time when national government was resisting its adherence. The Western Cape Department of Health was first to start providing antiretrovirals to our patients."
"Today we are reaping the fruits of taking the lead. I am very proud that we can celebrate 100 000 patients on ARVs - it is a testimony to the hard work and dedication of our staff to the HIV/AIDS challenge. The Western Cape Department of Health was the first to provide Highly Active Anti-Retroviral Therapy (HAART) in South Africa. When HIV/AIDS infections were at their peak, funds for treatment were limited and the department applied for external funding from the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria in 2003." At the time, an application was made to the Global Fund on the basis of what the province had in place already.
This province was made a principal recipient because it could demonstrate the ability to deliver on several fronts, including a very active community based response. This was complemented by activities at local government level. The Western Cape's HIV/AIDS campaign was rated very highly by the Global Fund, and resulted in a grant allocated to this province only.
The initial Grant Programme, to the value of US$66.5 million (approximately R490 million), had been successfully implemented in the Western Cape over the past six years (July 2004 - June 2010).
This has resulted in the Western Cape rollout being hailed as the ART success story of the country, with more than 11 000 people living with HIV/AIDS receiving ARV treatment since July 2005 - a quarter of whom are funded by the Global Fund. It was further estimated that, at the end of 2005, 65% of those in need of ART in Western Cape would have access to the lifesaving drugs, a figure considerably higher than the South African national average of 10%.
According to the World Health Organisation, more than 40 million people worldwide are HIV-positive and, since AIDS was first discovered, more than 25 million people have died as a result of the disease. Anti-retroviral treatment is widely available in developed countries, while access to anti-retrovirals (ARVs) in poorer countries has been historically inadequate.
Issued by the Directorate: Communications for the Western Cape Department of Health.
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