Doctors Without Borders (MSF) says despite the significant progress that has been made in preventing HIV infection, South Africa is still struggling to reduce HIV/AIDS mortality in the country.
(MSF) Medical Coordinator for South Africa, Dr. Amir Shroufi said, “Despite significantly improved access to ARVs, major challenges remain to reduce HIV/AIDS mortality in South Africa from an unacceptably high 180,000 deaths a year . In order to reach the 40% of people living with HIV who still have not started ARVs, scaling up public access to new tools such as self-tests will be necessary.
“In Khayelitsha—one of the oldest treatment programs in sub-Saharan Africa—around a third of people on ARVs for 10 years have disengaged from care at some point. HIV services across South Africa must be adapted to better retain people in care, and support the return of those who stop accessing services.
“Longer prescription times, and having community pick-up points or organized support groups for receiving medication can allow people to choose what works best for them at a given point in time during their lifelong treatment journey.
“Clinic staff must be equipped with skills to welcome back people who may have temporarily stopped taking treatment, and to screen for and recognize when patients have advanced HIV or opportunistic infections. In the context of under-resourced environments, nurses and lay counsellors must be capacitated to support this work.
“MSF calls on UNAIDS to include mortality reduction targets in reporting and monitoring, and help governments like South Africa’s focus on and invest in measures to achieve these goals.”