Progressive policy linked to the decline in new infections in Southern Africa
About 70% of South Africans with HIV are on antiretroviral treatment.
South Africa is the best country in the world to adopt progressive HIV policy, according to the 2020 Global HIV Policy Report.
The report was produced by the HIV Policy Lab, a collaborative project between universities, UN agencies and civil society organizations that follows developments in HIV-related legislation in 194 countries.
According to the report, South Africa has 7.6 million HIV infections, the most in the world. There are an estimated 200,000 new HIV infections in 2019, a third less than in 2014. About 70% of people living with HIV in 2019 will use antiretroviral drugs (ART). This number is lower than the global target of 90%, but it is a big improvement from 2014, when only 48% of the people were on ART.
The report states that the HIV Policy Lab has identified 33 key policies in four broad categories for the treatment and prevention of HIV. As of 2019, South Africa has accepted 27 of these policies in total and partially accepted a further three. The three measures not yet adopted by South Africa include the distribution of condoms and clean syringes to prisoners, the decriminalization of sex work and the decriminalization of the use and possession of drugs.
Further improvements to the HIV policy regime in South Africa could include the distribution of antiretroviral drugs in 6-month packages, the removal of criminal fines for possession of syringes for drug use and the change of legislation so that intellectual property rules do not become an obstacle. for access to medicine is not.
Only South Africa has adopted at least 80% of the recommended HIV policies.
Interestingly, 21 countries that receive funding from the President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief (PEPFAR), a US government initiative, score higher than the US itself.
South Africa’s neighboring countries are doing relatively well with the adoption of HIV policy. According to the report, the East and Southern Africa region has had the highest number of policy adoptions in the past decade, and new HIV infections have declined the most.
All countries in the region have adopted the ‘Treat everyone’ recommendation for initiating treatment; 95% regularly test viral loads; 90% start people with treatment on the day they are diagnosed and pay no cost for HIV services.
However, two-thirds of the countries in the region criminalize same-sex relationships, and the same percentage do not allow teens to access HIV testing and treatment without parental consent.
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