South Africa/ART: Inaugural programme reaps rewards

MSF project was first in country offering ART at the primary health care level. The survival rate is 90%.

MSF's programme in Khayelitsha - a township in South Africa's Western Cape province with a 20% rate of HIV infection - treats more than 3,000 people. This includes ARV treatment, using generic medicines, for nearly 300 people with HIV/AIDS.

It was the first programme in the country to provide ARV treatment at the primary health-care level. The survival rate for patients has been 90%, even though most were at an advanced stage of the illness when entering treatment.

Ninety percent of patients on ARVs had undetectable viral loads after three months of treatment, a figure that remained constant over the following three months, indicating high levels of compliance. Since the introduction of ARVs, voluntary counselling and testing in the community has also risen dramatically from 1,000 per year in 1998 to more than 12,000 in 2002.