The new guidelines ensures that all HIV positive pregnant women and patients on TB treatment with a CD4 count of 350 or less as well as HIV positive infants (from birth to one year irrespective of their CD4 count) will now receive ARVs at all government clinics and hospitals that offer the service.
In addition, HIV positive women who are not eligible for ARVs (CD4 count above 350) will now receive Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission (PMTCT) at 14 weeks of pregnancy instead of 28 weeks as it was previously done. This will assist in ensuring that babies are born uninfected with HIV. Expectant mothers are urged to present themselves at clinics as soon as they suspect that they are pregnant so they can be tested and put on necessary treatment timeously.
Also in this new treatment plan, women who are not eligible for ARVs (CD4 count above 350) will also receive among other things, an annual pap smear. The victims of rape will continue to receive Post Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) and a case number will not be a necessity.
All other HIV positive people who do not fall in the above categories will continue to receive ARV treatment when their CD4 count is 200 or less.
This programme aims at decreasing mortality rate which is one of the key priorities of the health department in this term of office.
Currently, Gauteng has 73 ARV sites and plans are underway to open an additional 40 sites by the end of the 2010/11 financial year. This will not only increase the number of sites to 113 but it is also expected that the number of people on ARV treatment will increase from 250 000 to 400 000.
Encouraging people to use these services, MEC Qedani Mahlangu said, ‘Your health is your responsibility, as soon as you note signs that you might be pregnant, or have any other illness, go to your nearest health facility for tests so you can be treated speedily if required.’
MEC Mahlangu added that it is important to all to know our health status. ‘Knowledge is power. When you know your status, you will be able to live positively, prolonging your life,’ she said.
Enquiries: Mandla Sidu on 082 773 9013 or Simon Zwane on 082 551 9892.
Issued by Gauteng Department of Health and Social Development.