HIV/AIDS in South Africa

Despite massive expenditure, South Africa has been unable to control its HIV epidemic.

Ten years ago, [with more than 11 per cent of the population infected by HIV,] South Africa unveiled a long-term plan to tackle its HIV problem. ….

Today HIV prevalence is about 12 per cent, partly reflecting the fact that those with the disease are living longer thanks to better treatment. ….

[But the plan is in trouble.] Even as it aims to reduce a persistently high level of new HIV infections to 100,000 a year by 2022, from 270,000 last year, many civil society groups say that South Africa is falling behind the latest thinking on HIV prevention …. ….

With just over half of the HIV-infected population of 7m taking ARVs [antiretrovirals], South Africa already runs the largest such programme in the world. ….

Clinicians speak of an urgent need to break a “cycle of HIV transmission” from older men to younger women by focusing on the prevention of infection. They estimate hundreds of new cases appear every day and, of the 270,000 people infected last year, 100,000 were young women and girls. ….

[The programme] has come under fire from activists for failing to press the government to follow a World Health Organization recommendation by decriminalising sex workers, which is one of the highest-risk groups. This move would make it easier for them to have access to anti-HIV drugs and stop police taking condoms away from them.

Joseph Cotterill, “South Africa reaches a make-or-break point over HIV“, Financial Times, 6 July 2017 (gated paywall).

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