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KZN orphanage still struggling to access ARVs in HIV/Aids fight

Eshowe north of KwaZulu-Natal is the first area in South Africa to meet the 90-90-90 target set by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV and Aids in 2013.

The Lilly of the Valley Children’s Village in Ilanga, KwaZulu-Natal. Picture: Facebook

ILLANGA - KwaZulu-Natal remains a paradox in the fight against HIV and Aids, with one part of the region superseding targets set by the United Nations, while on the whole, the province still has the highest infection rate on the African continent.

Eshowe north of KwaZulu-Natal is the first area in South Africa to meet the 90-90-90 target set by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV and Aids in 2013.

The strategy stipulated that by 2020, 90% of people infected which HIV would know their status, 90% of HIV positive patients would receive treatment while 90% of those on antiretrovirals would have viral suppression.

WATCH: HIV in KZN: the story of death to life

With almost 8 million people living with HIV and Aids in South Africa, KZN has the highest prevalence, accounting for around 24% of that figure.

According to the Centre for the Aids Programme of Research in South Africa, the uMgungundlovu District Municipality has the highest prevalence of HIV infections in Africa.

The effects have been far-reaching.

A number of orphanages have been built to house children who’ve been affected by the Aids pandemic as well as those living with HIV.

One such establishment is the Lilly of the Valley Children’s Village in Ilanga township.

Twenty-three years ago, it was operating as a hospice where children infected with HIV were left to die.

Although there’ve been changes since then, the village, which is home to 100 children, is still struggling with resources.

Facilitator Susan Knighton Fitt said: “At one point, unfortunately, the clinic said they couldn’t give us any more ARVs. The reason being is that there was such a high number of HIV positive infected children. Now, we don’t get them from the local clinic, we get them from the hospital. We're still, unfortunately, getting the blood CD4 counts done, so we still have to find our finances to get the kids tested and retested if we’re not sure of the status.”

Her colleague Prisca Fingers said while they had made big strides, admission rates remained high.

“We still have calls weekly for children to be placed, so when that stops, you can actually work with the ones who are infected right now and empower them. But the stream keeps coming, it’s still there.”

The KZN Health Department said uMgungundlovu was not far behind on the UNAids 90-90-90 targets, reaching two.

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