South African fight against HIV

On the eve of the World AIDS Day that falls on Sunday, South Africa’s National Department of Health said the country has achieved a lot in fighting against HIV over the past several years.

“Some of the initiatives in the fight against HIV include the introduction of the new drug combination and expanding access to Pre-exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP),” Foster Mohale, director of communications at the department of health, told Xinhua.

Mohale said the new drug combination is the first fixed dose combination of lamivudine, dolutegravir and tenofovir disoproxil fumarate, which is an antiretroviral (ARV) used to treat HIV.

PrEP is a drug for people at high risk of having HIV and it reduces the chance of being infected.

“At the 108 facilities there were about 247,300 HIV tests conducted, and over 220,000 tests were negative. More than 38,000 persons were initiated on PrEP between June 2016 to August 2019,” he said.

Anele Yawa, secretary general of a health organization called Treatment Action Campaign, said African governments should ensure that every HIV positive person has access to ARV treatment.

“The problem we have in Africa is the broken health system … We need to fight the stigma and discrimination that HIV people deal with,” he said.

Yawa said HIV/AIDS awareness and education should be promoted.

Mahale said the prevention of HIV infections and funding were crucial to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals of eliminating HIV/AIDS by 2030.

“Many African countries are expanding their responses like South Africa … It is very important to ensure that international assistance continues,” he said.