The South African Minister of Health, Joe Maila has announced that everyone who is HIV Positive will have access to anti-retroviral (ARV) treatment from the state before they get ill. This is good news for the nearly four million people living with the virus in the country, but who are not on medication.
A World Health Organization (WHO) study found that treating anyone who is HIV positive as early as possible helps improve their health and prolongs their life.
Until this new measure was announced only HIV Positive people with a CD4 count – a measure of the strength of the immune system – below 500 were qualified to receive treatment from the government.
Ministry of Health Joe Maila spokesperson told me: “This is going to increase life expectancy to at least 70 by 2030.”
The current life expectancy in South Africa is 63 years.
South Africa has the largest free HIV treatment programme in the world and is the country with the highest number of people who live with HIV.