News / Africa

South Africa Rolls Out New HIV Treatment

Anti-retroviral (ARV) drugs sit on a shelf in the pharmacy at the Ubuntu clinic in Cape Town's Khayelitsha township, Feb. 15, 2010. Anti-retroviral (ARV) drugs sit on a shelf in the pharmacy at the Ubuntu clinic in Cape Town's Khayelitsha township, Feb. 15, 2010.
x
Anti-retroviral (ARV) drugs sit on a shelf in the pharmacy at the Ubuntu clinic in Cape Town's Khayelitsha township, Feb. 15, 2010.
Anti-retroviral (ARV) drugs sit on a shelf in the pharmacy at the Ubuntu clinic in Cape Town's Khayelitsha township, Feb. 15, 2010.
The South African government has rolled out a new single pill to treat HIV/AIDS this week, claiming it will be the cheapest such treatment in the world. The country has the world's largest number of people living with the virus and it hopes this new pill will allow it to treat more patients.

In this small ARV (antiretroviral multiple drug therapy) center in the north of Pretoria, South Africa, a woman looks up at a poster promoting a new treatment for HIV/AIDS. The poster reads "One ARV pill a day. 3 ARV pills in 1, taken once a day." For HIV positive South Africans, this could mean a drastic change in their daily life, for the better.

The South African government started prescribing the new product on the 1st of April. Instead of taking 3 tablets a day, twice a day, HIV positive patients now only have to take 1 small pill per day.

Medical officer Dimakatso Boikhutso says the patients  who already have switched to this new treatment are satisfied.

"Patients are happy, those who have started the treatment, because its time-saving and it also improves compliance," said Boikhutso.

The new pill also is supposed to reduce side effects compared to other combined tablets, says Boikhutso.

"Initially patients were taking Stavudine which had side-effects like lipodystrophy [selective loss of body fat], peripheral neuropathy [weakening of the nerves in the body], then it was phased out. So now it's ine pill which has less side effects," said Boikhutso.

In the first three-month phase, the pill will be given mostly to new patients, pregnant women and breast-feeding women because the pill prevents mother-to-baby infection through breastfeeding.

South Africa still has the world's largest number of people living with HIV/AIDS, but the country has made tremendous progress in the treatment of the disease over the last few years. Today, 1.9 million South Africans are under ARV treatment, ten times more than in 2005.

According to Aaron Motsoaledi, the South African minister of health, the new fixed-dose combination pill should further increase that number.

"Its going to be the cheapest. We used to spend 150 rands [$16] per patient per month. With this fixed dose combination, its going to be only 89 rands [$10] per month. Which means meaning the possibility of treating more people with the same resource," said Motsoaledi.

The equivalent of $10 a month is, according to Motsoaledi, the cheapest HIV/AIDS treatment in the world, and the government plans to reach 180,000 priority patients in the first phase of the rollout.

Aside from treating its HIV positive population, the South African government also will focus its policy on prevention.

South Africa has 5.6 million people living with HIV/AIDS. That is 17 percent of the world's population of people living with HIV.

You May Like

Multimedia Social Media Documenting, Not Driving, Hong Kong Protests

Unlike Arab Spring uprisings, pro-democracy protestors in Hong Kong aren't relying on Twitter and Facebook to organize, but social media still plays a role More

Analysis: Occupy Central Not Exactly Hong Kong’s Tiananmen

VOA's former Hong Kong, Beijing correspondent compares and contrasts 1989 Tiananmen Square protest with what is now happening in Hong Kong More

Bambari Hospital a Lone Place of Help in Violence-Plagued CAR

Only establishment still functioning in CAR's second city is main hospital More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Ntombifuthi Bilingana from: Kokstad
April 25, 2013 6:39 AM
Good Day Everybody,
As an HIV/AIDS activist I was so happy to hear that we will have one pill once a day but I have noticed that we are not going to get this pill soon, and that is disapppointing because as the person who got HIV in 2005, I started with those old ARV's which were changing our structures and when the second rollout come they said its for the people who have newly infected and those pills were not changing structure they are normal, now you have this new one in all pill you are also saying that it will start with new infected people and pregnant women, the question is what about us? it is not fair the way you are doing things to us. I therefore appeal to who ever is taking a decision to think for those who got affected long time, you are always puting us aside.
Thank you,
Concerned HIV infected person.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid