President Jacob Zuma made a commitment to HIV and AIDS treatment in December 2009 when he announced the new HIV and AIDS policy stipulating that the provision of treatment to TB co-infected patients, infants and pregnant women will now be available up to a CD4 count of 350. As of end of September 2009, the health HIV and AIDS conditional grant has commendably supported a massive enrollment of AIDS patients on the ARV treatment (ART) programme, with a cumulative number of more than 920 000 patients initiated on the treatment. This marks a 91 per cent increase of patients enrolled on the ART programme from the 483 084 patients enrolled by April 2008. Budget 2010 released on the 17 February 2010 has progressively added new funds amounting to R3 billion to fund the president‟s new policy and to sustain existing programmes and projects in the 2010/11 – 2012/13 medium term, and to support the increase of AIDS patients receiving ARVs to 2.1 million by 2012/13 . Of concern though, is the lack of increasing commitment to prevention interventions, without which the treatment needs and costs will continue to increase.
TAC is pleased with the additional funds that will be made available for HIV programmes and that government is projecting to meet the target of the HIV&AIDS and STI Strategic Plan (2007-2011) (NSP).
However in order to ensure that money is effectively spent and the policy is properly implemented, the Department of Health must develop the capacity of the provincial Departments of Health to effectively budget for the provision of health services.
Further government must improve the monitoring and evaluation of its Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy (HAART) and Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission (PMTCT) programmes so that it can more accurately budget for drug procurement of the programmes.
Finally TAC is concerned about a projected decline in funding for TB which remains the leading cause of death of people living with HIV.
TAC Lusikisiki distributed 60 800 during Condom Week in the Flagstaff CBD. Condoms were supplied by the Department of Health and distributed in support of Ingquza Local AIDS Council on 9 February.
Condom week, held every February, was initiated by the Local AIDS Council to distribute condoms in the area. TAC Lusikisiki also distributes condoms throughout the year for the Department of Health through its Prevention and Treatment Literacy Practioner and Community Health Advocate programmes.
Target locations for condom distribution included: bargain wholesalers, uNcedo and border taxi ranks, hair salons, clinics, garages , driving schools, B & B’s and bus ranks.
American leaders are currently discussing the future of the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, PEPFAR. Global health activists and experts have warned that these discussions could lead to reduced funding for, and threaten the autonomy of, PEPFAR in a period of declining donor interest in HIV/AIDS.
In order for South Africa and many other countries to reach universal access, a commitment endorsed by the United States, PEPFAR will need to continue to expand funding for HIV.
On 10 December 2010 (International Human Rights Day) TAC had the honour of accepting the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung Human Rights Award. TAC Chairperson, Nonkosi Khumalo, and Lusikisiki District Coordinator, Noloyiso Nthamehlo, accepted the award on behalf of TAC. To see photos of the awards cermony click here .
To hear the audio interview with Nonkosi Khumalo please click here .
TDF-based regimens are now being sold at prices that are competitive with d4T-based regimens. If accessed, these competitive prices will allow the DoH to improve regimens without the need for additional financial resources. The steps laid out in this policy brief must be taken to ensure that these competitive prices are available in South Africa, so that first line d4T-based regimens can be phased out and replaced with TDF-based FDCs.
TAC’s General Secretary, Vuyiseka Dubula, and Chairperson, Nonkosi Khumalo, will be presented with the John M. Lloyd Award in recognition of their leadership in HIV/AIDS. They will be presented the award on 5 March 2010 in Los Angeles, USA. The award, presented by the John M. Lloyd Foundation, is intended to recognize, develop and empower HIV/AIDS advocacy leaders that have not yet been extensively recognized.
The award recognizes the remarkable work of these two women in two preeminent HIV/AIDS organizations in South Africa, the Treatment Action Campaign and the AIDS Law Project (ALP). The John M. Lloyd Foundation hopes that the award will amplify the impact of their work.
The Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) expresses condolence to the family, children and the ANC on the death of Manto Tshabalala-Msimang. Although we had differences with the former minister of health, we do not wish ill-health or death upon anyone. She played a critical and courageous role in the struggle for liberation. Only history will judge all of us on what we have done to save the lives of thousands of people living with HIV.
Here is an article by Jonathan Berger of the AIDS Law Project on the death of the former health minister.
I would like to take the opportunity today, International Human Rights Day, to salute our comrades in the struggle for access to treatment.
First I want to salute some of our fallen comrades - Oupa Fazi, Nkosinathi Magwala, Nomfundo Somana, Edward Mabunda, John Vollenhoven, Dr Steve Andrews, Dr Ivan Toms, Dr Sarah Ann Christianson, Violet Seboni, Thandokazi Kweta, Nandipha Makeke, Lorna Mlofana, Thabisile Mabuya and others.
Also, I salute our comrades who have committed and dedicated their youth and adult life to the struggle for access to treatment for people living with HIV.
TAC staff and members in the Mopani, Limpopo picketed at Giyani in Kholehala Village as part of events to commemorate World AIDS Day.
The picket was organized to follow up on the memorandum handed over to the Mopani Department of Health in July of 2009 as part of TAC's resources for health campaign to meet the targets of the National Strategic Plan (2007-2011) for the treatment and prevention of HIV and TB. Click on the video to watch footage of the picket and listen to the statements of TAC Limpopo Provincial Coordinator, Lawrence Mbalati.