A total of 126 755 people in South Africa died of Aids-related diseases in 2017 – a significant decrease compared to 219 741 deaths in 2010, according to Statistics South Africa’s recent figures.
Some experts have attributed this good news to the new approach of managing the disease by both the state and the private sector.
This includes the improved rollout of ARVs.
The improved roll-out of ARVs in both the public and private sector hospitals and clinics has resulted in the elimination of waiting lists for ARVs, Urvashi Ramjee, head of claims management at Old Mutual Group Assurance, said this week in Johannesburg.
“In the past, individuals would have to wait for their immune system to show symptoms before receiving access to ARVs, whereas today, ARVs are administered to patients much sooner, meaning treatment is starting earlier and individuals are less impacted by the disease’s symptoms,” Ramjee explained.
Ramjee, who also revealed that the number of HIV/Aids disability claims has decreased in the South African workplace, added: “For HIV positive individuals, managing the disease has also become less difficult and can be easier to manage than diabetes.
“ARVs are now compressed into one daily tablet while someone with diabetes is required to change their lifestyle to manage the disease. If an HIV individual is consistent and compliant with his or her treatment schedule, the statistics show that these patients can remain productive and healthy in the workplace.”
A total of 1.8 million people worldwide were infected by HIV/Aids in 2017, according to UNAids figures, while the disease is infecting at least one person every 17 seconds.
Statistics South Africa says approximately 12.6% (7.06 million people) of the South African population is HIV positive. Sub-Saharan Africa’s estimated HIV incidence rate (per 1 000 uninfected population) in 2015 was 1.54% – the highest in the world.
“If South Africa is to contribute to working towards the United Nations goal of ending the epidemic of AIDS by 2030, we need to decrease its prevalence locally,” Ramjee said.