President Jacob Zuma has announced a return to reality based AIDS program in South Africa. His predecessor Thabo Mbeki and his health minister, Tshabalala-Msimang, had been captured by a nasty pastiche of their politics, intellectual arrogance and the attractions of denialism. What denialism gets you is
Zuma's new program calls for treatment for all children under 1 year old who have been exposed to HIV through their parents, regardless of their level of CD4 cells, earlier treatment for pregnant women, increased testing and more.
the statistics are almost impossible to digest. The country of 50 million has some 5.3 million people infected with HIV, by far the highest number of any country in the world. There have been an estimated 413,000 new infections this year alone. Someone dies of HIV-related illness every two minutes in South Africa.
There are still nearly 1.5 million people with HIV not getting ARVs, of whom more than 100,000 are children. This despite the fact that South Africa has more patients on AR drug therapy than any other country, a massive burden on a developing country with a chronically stressed national health system.
If you spotlight almost any demographic, horrifying figures emerge: one third of all South African women between ages 25-29 are HIV positive; there are 1.4 million Aids orphans and experts believe that one third of all children in the country will have lost one or both parents to the disease by 2015. Practically the only bright spot is that the rate of new infections has plateaued. But the number of HIV-related deaths will continue to soar for the next five years.
International donors, including the US are stepping up aid in response to South Africa's new programs
Denial kills, costs and confuses.