By: Tankiso Moshoeshoe
A universal “test and treat” programme for all those testing positive with HIV has started in KwaZulu-Natal – marking a shift away from the old system that only allowed patients with a low CD4 count to get medication.
The new system was launched in early September and now allows all those who test positive with HIV to receive antiretroviral medication.
KwaZulu-Natal MEC for health Sibongiseni Dhlomo said he had gone to a clinic in KwaDabeka where people with HIV were enrolled on the antiretroviral programme right away and another patient was able to be tested and treated based on the results which he received right there and then.
Dr Dhlomo said previously using the older system a person’s CD4 count had to fall to 200 before receiving medication, later the count was raised to 350 and then 500. Now it is all who test positive for HIV can receive medication.
EThekwini Mayor Zandile Gumede said there are 346 000 patients taking antiretroviral treatment in the municipality.
“The Durban city remains optimistic that they can eliminate new infections for both HIV and Aids by 2030,” said Gumede.
Gumede said the new ‘test and treat’ treatment would be rolled out in the same standard to all the municipal clinics.