South Africa calls for zero deaths from TB and HIV in first integrated national plan

2 December 2011 - Johannesburg - The South African government has unveiled a national strategic plan to tackle HIV/AIDS that, for the first time, will also guide the country's fight against tuberculosis (TB).

The new plan calls for stepped-up prevention efforts to halve new infections of HIV and tuberculosis by 2016 and to put 80 percent of eligible patients on anti-retroviral drugs.

As part of a 20-year vision, the plan also calls for zero new HIV and TB infections and zero preventable deaths from HIV and TB.

The plan is designed to provide a national framework that will guide the development of detailed implementation plans at provincial and local levels. These plans, the government says, will be launched on 24 March 2012, World TB Day.

"This world AIDS Day, we called for an end to the injustice which sees people living with HIV but dying of TB," said Lucica Ditiu, Executive Secretary of the Stop TB Partnership. "This integrated plan is a bright moment in a week where there have been serious doubts about resources available for the fight against TB and HIV.

"We have urged fast-growing economies such as South Africa to step up and commit resources to fight TB and HIV. We look forward to seeing South Africa moving forward in implementing the plan, and hope that this will spur action in other countries."

The document contains several objectives which are part of the international recommendations for TB/HIV integration and which are also recommended in a publication by the Stop TB Partnership, UNAIDS and WHO: Time to act: Save a million lives by 2015: Prevent and treat tuberculosis among people living with HIV. These include regular testing and screening for HIV and TB, immediate provision of antiretroviral therapy to all HIV-positive people with TB, increased access to treatment and integrating TB screening into programmes to prevent mother to child transmission of HIV.

The plan is structured around four strategic objectives. These are to address the social and structural factors that drive the epidemics; prevent new HIV and TB infections; reduce deaths and disability from AIDS and TB: and to protect the human rights of people living with HIV.

The development of the plan was coordinated by the South African National AIDS Council (SANAC), the national body providing leadership and advice on the country’s response to HIV and TB.

Read a summary of the plan.