HIV drugs treatment to start earlier - Motsoaledi


Cape Town - South Africa will start treating HIV-positive patients at an earlier stage starting next year, Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi said on Wednesday.

“As from January 2015, we shall start HIV-positive patients on treatment at CD4 count of less than 500 as against the CD4 count of less than 350,” Motsoaledi announced during his budget vote speech in Parliament.

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12/06/2014.Deputy Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional affairs, Obed Bapela and Minister of Health, Aaron Motsoaledi talks about the plans of their departments about the upcoming initiation season. Picture: Masi Losi

The new treatment regime was in line with guidelines adopted by the World Health organisation (WHO) in 2013, which recommended that countries start treating HIV-positive patients on antiretroviral (ARV) drugs sooner.

In addition, South Africa would no longer terminate the treatment of HIV-positive women when they stopped breastfeeding their infants.

Instead, South Africa would adopt the WHO Option B Plus from January next year.

“Option B Plus simply means every pregnant HIV-positive woman goes on lifelong treatment, regardless of their CD4 status,” Motsoaledi explained.

“Treatment of as many people as possible has been found by research to be also a form or prevention.”

The new drug treatment regime would be coupled with prevention programmes.

The programmes would include massive condom distribution, a scaling up of medical male circumcisions, and testing campaigns. - Sapa

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