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South Africa to screen whole population for AIDS

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Staff writer ▼ | July 24, 2014
Aaron MotsoalediSouth Africa's government plans to extend AIDS tests to the country's entire population and speed up antiretroviral treatment of those who test positive for the virus, the health minister said.

"We come from very far in the past five years," Aaron Motsoaledi told parliament. "But a lot still needs to be done," the minister said while presenting his annual budget.

With 6.4 million people infected with HIV, the virus that can cause AIDS, South Africa has the largest seropositive population in the world, but also the largest programme to treat them.

After a recent spike in AIDS infections, the country aims to eradicate the virus by 2030, a goal echoing guidelines adopted by the world AIDS conference in Melbourne this week.

Within 15 years the conference wants 90 per cent of people to know their status, 90 percent of those infected to be treated and 90 percent of those on treatment to have no viral load.

"There are leakages in the HIV/AIDS cascade," said Motsoaledi, whose country saw a 27 per cent rise in new infections in 2012. South Africa will step up its programmes to reach the 90 percent target, he said.

"This means testing most if not all of the population annually, initiating everyone who is positive on treatment. It will mean mass testing in every possible setting: schools, universities, workplaces, churches and communities."

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