14% of HIV patients in the Eastern Cape choose not to take ARVs

Fourteen percent of HIV-positive people are not taking their ARV medicine in the Eastern Cape, according to Premier Oscar Mabuyane.

Mabuyane said 93% of those living with HIV are aware of their status, 79% are receiving treatment, and 92% indicate suppressed viral loads.

Decline in new infections in the province

These statistics are despite the decline in new HIV infections throughout the province.

“We have to do more on health promotion, tracking and tracing of patients to increase retention in care. [Also] working with all stakeholders, including civil society partners,” said Mabuyane.

He said their philosophy of a better life for all is about building human capabilities to attain a life standard that is both productive and long-lasting.

Mabuyane highlighted an improvement in life expectancy compared to the previous years.

“Life expectancy for women improved from 56 years in 2001 to 67 years in 2021. Men are also living seven years longer than they were in 2001.

Access to healthcare improved

“Implied in this is the need to promote access to healthcare and encourage healthy lifestyles. In this regard, we have worked tirelessly to improve the health profile of our province.”

The province noted a significant improvement in postnatal care, from 52% in 2019 to 82.7% in 2023.

“However, maternal mortality remains a concern, particularly in the hot spots zones of O.R. Tambo and the metros.

Mabuyane: “As a society, we must confront teenage pregnancy and support young mothers better. This will help us make significant inroads to mitigate maternal mortality.”

Mabuyane said healthcare workers are essential role players in preserving life and fighting the burden of diseases.

Second medical school in the province

“We also succeeded in lobbying for the establishment of a second medical school in our province. The Nelson Mandela University. This was part of our strategy to improve the output of healthcare workers in the province.”

Meanwhile, the provincial department of health revealed that the 14% difference is caused by patients leaving the treatment programme. Some being totally lost to follow-up, deaths and transfers out of the province. These have accumulated over time since the start of the programme.

HIV treatment saves lives

The department’s spokesperson, Mkhululi Ndamase, said an ARV introduction for people living with HIV was done to sustain their lifespan. Thus contribute to an improvement in their life expectancy, he added.

“People living with HIV who are adhering to treatment can have their viral level suppressed within three months of starting treatment. This results in improved health and quality of life,” Ndamase said.

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