File photo: Chris Collingridge/African News Agency (ANA)
File photo: Chris Collingridge/African News Agency (ANA)

US to continue funding HIV treatment in SA

By Yolisa Tswanya Time of article published May 2, 2019

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Intensive remedial efforts by the Department of Health to keep people on HIV treatment have led to the US reversing plans to cut the President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief’s (Pepfar) funding.

Earlier this year, the US threatened to cut its aid to SA by more than $200million (R2.8bn), or 30%, mainly as a result of the substantial numbers of HIV patients stopping treatment.

Spokesperson for the US Consulate Ellen Masi said South African HIV treatment showed improvements.

“The South African government and Pepfar are committed to implementing programme fundamentals well and consistently. The South Africa government is committed to achieving President Ramaphosa’s pledge to put 2 million additional people living with HIV on treatment.”

She said Pepfar had partnered with South Africa for 15 years to put people living with HIV on treatment.

“Based on the results of recent efforts, the updated funding planning level for Pepfar COP19 (October 2019-September 2020) is $730m.

“This US Pepfar funding will support South Africa’s initiatives to accelerate HIV treatment, and also support a broad portfolio of HIV prevention programmes. Final funding allocations are subject to approval after submission of detailed plans.”

Dr Yogan Pillay, deputy director-general of the Department of Health, said: “We showed them we made significant progress, finding lost patients and putting them back on treatment by operation Phuthuma, which we monitor on a daily basis and on which we do troubleshooting.

“The data we showed them in Washington convinced them that if they give us additional resources we will be able to add an additional 2 million patients to the 4.5 million patients on HIV treatment, towards a 6.1 million target by December 2020.”

Pillay said the aim was to end the HIV epidemic, and urged South Africans to know their status and go on treatment if necessary.

“We encourage those who stopped treatment to come back as it’s good for them and it’s also good for the population, because they’ll not transfer the virus to anyone else.

“Those not tested should test, especially men and young people. If negative, they must continue whatever they are doing and if positive, they should go on and stay on treatment.”

The Treatment Action Campaign hailed the decision as a major victory for those living with HIV, as critical resources would be restored.

TAC general secretary Anele Yawa said: “We’re relieved the potential cut to funding has been averted - it risked derailing our national HIV response and harming people living with HIV.”

Yawa said the government needed to do more, including increasing human resource capacity at the front line of HIV service delivery.


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