HIV-treatment waiting list a ’fraction’ of those in need

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CAPE TOWN — About 31255 HIV- positive patients were on waiting lists for antiretroviral drugs treatment in government clinics at the end of June, the health department said yesterday.

In a move to pre-empt Health Minister Manto Tshabalala Msimang’s response to a parliamentary question from the Democratic Alliance, due to be tabled in Parliament today, the department emphasised that waiting-list figures were much smaller than the estimated number of people needing treatment.

Between 500000 and 800000 HIV -positive South Africans needed anti-retrovirals, the department said in a statement.

The figures are derived from the Actuarial Society’s models, and assume that between 10%-15% of the 5,4-million South Africans infected with HIV had progressed to the point where they needed treatment.

“The model does not necessarily take into consideration the impact of healthy lifestyle interventions in delaying progression from HIV infection to development of AIDS-defining conditions,” it said.

Nomonde Qundu, the department’s head of HIV/AIDS, said many HIV-positive South Africans in need of treatment were unaware they were infected with the virus, and had yet to seek voluntary testing and counselling at accredited clinics.

As a result, the waiting lists represented only a fraction of those needing treatment, she said.

There was apparently confusion in the public mind over the difference between the figures, Qundu said.

By the end of June, 178635 HIV-positive patients had begun treatment, she said. About 10000 patients were being enrolled a month.

SA’s shortage of skilled staff, particularly pharmacists, and delays in procuring equipment were the main causes of the delays in starting treatment, said Qundu.

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This page contains a single entry by ID Admin published on October 17, 2006 10:09 AM.

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