Dramatic advances in mother-to-child transmission and treatment that can safely reduce TB incidence are among recent successes that are helping in the fight against HIV.
South Africa has one of the highest rates of HIV in the world, and HIV prevalence continues to rise every year; nevertheless, the health services, supported by researchers, have had some outstanding successes in containing the disease.
Even the annual rise in prevalence, as reported recently by the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC), hides a good-news story: the enormous success of the antiretroviral treatment (ART) programme means that people with HIV are living longer, which increases the total number of those living with HIV.
The number of people newly infected with HIV is decreasing. We have come a long way since the dark days of HIV denial, when nearly 750 people died from AIDS every day (as recounted by Edwin Cameron in his recent memoir, Justice). Currently, there are just over 2.0 million adults in South Africa on free treatment, according to the HSRC – the biggest ART programme in the world – and UNAIDS reported that there were 100 000 fewer AIDS-related deaths in 2011 than in 2005.