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Antiretroviral shortages affect HIV fight

On World AIDS day health experts say more needs to be done to provide meds.

FILE: Students participate in an "Abstinence Walk" to commemorate Women's Day in Durban on Thursday, 9 August 2012. Picture: Sapa.

JOHANNESBURG - Health experts on Friday warned that while awareness about HIV/AIDS in South Africa was improving, shortages of life-saving antiretroviral drugs were holding up progress.

Some 20 million people have been tested for the virus since the government kicked off a new campaign in April 2010.

But Deputy Director of the Wits Reproductive Health and HIV Research Unit, Professor Francois Venter said many were being let down after finding out their status.

"It's all very well telling people to know their status, but if someone tests and needs antiretrovirals and are told they have to wait for four months to get treatment, which is happening in central Johannesburg at the moment, that's not okay. That really needs to change."

Meanwhile, Western Cape Health MEC Theuns Botha said his department aimed to have zero infections by 2016.

"We should take joint responsibility in our endeavour to have an aids-free society and a zero infection in the years to come."