According to a report on Nigerians in South Africa, life expectancy has risen by nearly ten years – from 53,4 in 2004 to 62.5 in 2015 – and the antiretroviral therapy programme is partly credited for that.
The country’s national antiretroviral therapy programme which was first rolled out in 2004 have progressed to become the largest in the world.
Statistics from South Africa estimated that in 2015 there were 6.2 million people in the country living with HIV. According to the department of health, half of those were on the antiretroviral therapy at the end of March 2015.
Before January 2015, HIV+ people were started on antiretroviral therapy when their CD4 count (a measure of how well a person’s immune system is working) fell below 350 cells per cubic millimetre of blood. Treatment is now started when it falls below 500. (The CD4 count of a person who is in good health generally ranges from 500 to 1,200.)
Pregnant women who are HIV+ are now also automatically started on life-long treatment irrespective of their CD4 count.
According to the World Health Organisation, South Africa had the largest antiretroviral therapy programme in the world in December 2013. By March 2015, the number of people on treatment had increased to 3,103,902.
The latest international comparison showed that South Africa’s antiretroviral therapy programme was the largest in the world, with 2,623,271 people on treatment in December 2013. This was bigger than the size of India, Zimbabwe, Kenya and Mozambique’s programmes combined.
The latest figures from South Africa’s department of health show that the number of people on treatment increased to 3,103,902 in March 2015.
This report comes as the world celebrates the World AIDS day and Africa is at the focal point of the disease.