Washington Post Examines Antiretroviral Drug Rollout in South Africa, Where ‘Tide Has Begun To Turn’
The Washington Post on Tuesday examined the progress of the South African government's plan to provide antiretroviral drugs at low or no cost to HIV-positive people who need them. Since the government announced the plan last year, it has delivered antiretroviral drugs to about 11,000 HIV-positive people through the public health system, and insurers and employers are delivering the drugs to tens of thousands more people in the country, according to the Post. Only about one of every 50 HIV/AIDS patients who are "medically ready" for antiretroviral drugs are receiving them, according to researchers who track the epidemic, the Post reports. However, although thousands of South Africans continue to die of AIDS-related causes, "the tide has begun to turn," according to the Post. The price of antiretroviral drugs has dropped tenfold in the country since the government announced the plan, and the biggest obstacle to treating patients currently is a lack of facilities and trained staff, Christopher Jack, a physician who oversees an antiretroviral drug program in KwaZulu-Natal province, said, the Post reports. In addition, many HIV/AIDS patients do not seek early treatment because of the stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS, lack of knowledge and denial, according to staff members at the Church of Scotland Hospital in Tugela Ferry, South Africa. Approximately 5.3 million South Africans are HIV-positive (Timberg, Washington Post, 11/30).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.