So says a report in The Mail and Guardian on the 4.1.2013:

South Africa has something to be proud of with regard to their handling of HIV/AIDS – a far different cry from headlines in the past.  What have we accomplished? Enjoy the following article!


For a national minister of health to be lauded in the press as a hero in his handling of South Africa’s HIV/Aids epidemic would have sounded absurd a mere four years ago when denialism was the order of the day.

Banner headlines in the national Sunday press proclaiming “UN credits SA in Aids fight” and an editorial under the heading “Motsoaledi’s Aids policy is an inspiration” are a massively positive turnaround.

Even the official opposition has not been shy in its praise for the minister awarding him an A in its end-of-year minister’s report card, in which ministers in the governing party are often trounced.

The Democratic Alliance said: “under his leadership, the health department has achieved significant success in the fight against HIV and Aids”.  There is little doubt that under the stewardship of Dr. Aaron Motsoaledi and his predecessor, Barbara Hogan, the turnaround in the state’s ability to treat HIV- positive citizens has been nothing short of miraculous.

First the number of citizens who receive antiretrovirals has increased from 133 000 in 2005 to 1.9 million today, making it the largest antiretroviral treatment programme in the world.  And everything is on track for this figure to climb to 2.5 million by 2014.

Aids-related deaths decreased from 257 in 2005 to 194 000 in 2011.  The rate of mother-to-child transmission of HIV went from 8.5% in 2005 to 2.7% in 2011.

One dark cloud, however, is that the rate of new infections – caused in the main by people having unprotected casual sex – is still too high.

Every year, about 2% of the population becomes infected, making a compelling case for high-impact awareness and marketing campaign.

But several studies have shown that if the government had not stepped up its HIV treatment programme two years ago the incidence of infection would most likely be 10 times higher.

Of all the statistics being bandied around, possibly the most dramatic is that the poor average life expectancy of South Africans – just 54 years – that was the case in 2009 has risen to 60 years in 2011.

This six year increase is being hailed as a major achievement from all corners of the world.

A United Nations report published on World Aids Day last year said that South Africa was the country that had made the highest domestic investment in the treatment of Aids among all the world’s lower to middle-income countries.  Last year, the figure invested from the public purse stood at $1.9 billion.

Another publication that has been singing the praises of Motsoaledi is the highly respected medical journal the Lancet.

One of the co-authors of the report, Professor Salim Abdool, the president of the medical Research Council, said “To increase life expectancy by more than 10% in three years is no mean feat.  It happens only when you have a major change in society like the abolishment of slavery or the invention of the internal combustion engine.”

A co-author of the Lancet article, renowned University of Cape Town-based cardiologist Professor Dr. Bongani Mayosi, said: “The rise in life expectancy was pretty dramatic in human populations.  The intervention implemented by the government in particular around H IV prevention and treatment, is beginning to have an impact.”

Of course, as impressive as the quotes from eminent medical professionals and the statistics are, it is only when they are made real in human interest stories that the impact is felt.

Take, for instance, the poignant story that was published last month about Cotlands, The charitable organisation that has been caring for children in need for the past 70 years.

It appears that owing to the dramatic reduction in mother-to-child transmission, the charity has closed down its hospice because not a single HIV-positive child has died over the past two years.

Just the kind of news about HIV and Aids that we all need to hear.

Hats off to the minister!”