New York Times Examines Prevention of Mother-to-Child HIV Transmission in South Africa
The New York Times on Sunday examined the South African government's adoption of a national treatment strategy to prevent mother-to-child HIV transmission. The country's Department of Health announced in January that it will begin requiring the World Health Organization -recommended strategy, which includes zidovudine and nevirapine.
Although some HIV/AIDS advocates are "celebrating the government's new policy," they also have said that South Africa "should have put it into practice long ago," the Times reports. Sibani Mngadi, a department of health spokesperson, said that the government had to review data and consult various people at WHO after the agency issued its guidelines in 2006. "There were a number of issues to be debated," he said (Dugger, New York Times, 3/9).
In related news, Reuters/Washington Post on Friday examined a recent government report that found a lack of financial resources could undermine the sustainability of South Africa's national HIV/AIDS plan. The report to the United Nations recently was posted on UNAIDS' Web site, and it was approved by the country's cabinet last week, according to Reuters/Washington Post. South Africa's national strategic plan aims to provide 80% of HIV-positive people with access to antiretroviral treatment by 2011. Figures from the health department indicate that it will cost about $747 million to implement this year -- increasing to $1.37 billion in 2011. The report said that if the plan's treatment target is met, "this would exceed 20% of the health budget," adding, "This poses a challenge for both the affordability and sustainability of" the plan. According to the report, it is "estimated that at current prices, the provision of antiretroviral therapy will account for about 40% of the total cost of the" plan. The report also said that there have been signs of reduced HIV prevalence among young pregnant women. "This could be the beginning of the long-awaited downward trend on prevalence among pregnant youth in South Africa," it said (Roelf, Reuters/Washington Post, 3/7).