South Africa's battle against HIV/AIDS gains momentum.


South Africa has come a long way in its war against HIV. In the 1990s, its attempts to stem the escalating death toll of the epidemic against a background of political and social unrest were often ineffectual or misguided. Today sees a country confronting the epidemic head on and making substantial inroads against the enemy. South Africa still has the greatest number of people infected with the virus and the highest number of new cases annually. But it also now holds the world record for having the largest number of HIV-infected people surviving thanks to a burgeoning antiretroviral treatment (ART) programme. It is also well on the way to halting mother-to-child transmission of the infection. Aaron Motsoaledi, South Africa’s Minister of Health, is upbeat. “There was a time”, he tells The Lancet, “when the diagnosis of HIV infection was like a death sentence. People were dying all over the country. Between 1997 and 2006 the death rate from the infection doubled. We have changed that. We have scaled up treatment and brought the death rate down by a third since 2004. So we no longer fear the disease as we did. And for the fi rst time, the number of people on ART is greater than the number of new cases we see every year. I fully believe that we have turned the corner and I am delighted with that progress. But we mustn’t let down our guard. We still have obstacles to face and a lot of work to do. And we must turn off the tap of new cases occurring.”

Cite this paper

@article{Maurice2014SouthAB, title={South Africa's battle against HIV/AIDS gains momentum.}, author={John Maurice}, journal={Lancet}, year={2014}, volume={383 9928}, pages={1535-6} }