South Africa Cuts AIDS-Related Deaths In Half By Integrating HIV Care Into The Public Health System
South Africa has more people with HIV than any other country in the world. Roughly 5.5 million of its 53 million citizens are infected with the virus.
Now, after years of delay and mistakes, South Africa is transforming how it approaches the disease — and leading the way.
The South African government is simplifying AIDS care, cutting treatment costs and providing antiviral drugs to almost 2 million people every day.
The country just rolled out a new treatment regimen, which involves just one pill a day and costs less than $120 a year per person. By comparison, similar treatment in the U.S. costs thousands of dollars a year for each person.
Even AIDS activists, who continue to badger the South African Health Ministry, concede that the country is attacking the disease in new and innovative ways.
The delivery of antiviral drugs through the public health care system has been so successful and saved so many lives that the overall life expectancy in the country has increased by eight years since the crest of South Africa’s AIDS crisis in the mid-2000s.
Nearly 350,000 South Africans died of AIDS in 2005. But in 2012, that number dropped by nearly half to about 190,000 deaths, the government reports.
Top photo: A small clinic in Soweto, South Africa, offers all HIV services, including testing and treatment.
Bottom photo: People hangout in the township Soweto.
Photos by Jason Beaubien/NPR.