US to step up fight against HIV/Aids

Deborah Birx says there are some countries who have not improved their efforts to eradicate Aids.

US President Barack Obama. Picture: AFP

JOHANNESBURG - US President Barack Obama's Emergency Plan for Aids Relief says it is concerned about the number of people who are on antiretroviral treatment but then stop taking their drugs.

The coordinator of the US Activities to Combat HIV, Deborah Birx, says the emergency plan, also known as PEPFAR, is working with partners to accelerate the fight against the deadly virus to achieve an Aids-free generation.

Durban will host the 21st International Aids Conference in 2016.

Birx says there are some countries who have not improved their efforts to eradicate Aids.

"Understanding why some countries have had such a tremendous response and a decrease in new infections and why other countries have not had that same benefit is really important so we can understand how to do things better."

SA IMPROVES HIV/AIDS TREATMENT PLAN

On Wednesday, Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi said his department aims to purchase different types of life-saving medication at a cheaper rate in future, after recently securing more affordable antiretroviral drugs.

The department has signed an HIV/Aids drug tender worth R14 billion with four pharmaceutical firms which will run over the next three years starting from April.

The minister said the country has saved R15 billion.

Motsoaledi said this is just the first step in reducing prices as the next involves proposed changes to drug patent laws.

"We are waiting for the Department of Trade and Industry and we hope that it will happen this year to change the intellectual property regulations of the country so that we start acquiring very cheap drugs, not only ARV's but any drugs.

"If we did not do what we did, if we did not fight to achieve the lowest prices, the country would be paying R29 billion to please the 2.7 million people we have got on the programme."

The department says with the drop in the price it will pay for antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) in the next financial year, it will be able to invest more money in its HIV treatment plan.