As from the 1st of September, all South Africans who are HIV positive will be able to receive immediate treatment.
The new universal “test and treat” approach to HIV/AIDS is in line with the World Health Organisation’s guidelines to tackle the Aids epidemic.
Previously, people who are HIV positive were only given treatment when their CD4 cell count was less than 500.
The move was already announced in May this year by Health Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi but only came into effect on Thursday.
South Africa has the world’s biggest HIV treatment programme, with more than 3.4 million people on ARVs. An additional R1 billion has been allocated towards extending treatment under “test and treat”.
“We have, on the basis of research evidence, already removed CD4 count as an eligibility criterion for HIV positive pregnant women, children under five years of age as well as HIV and TB co-infected patients over the past few years. This new policy extends this to all people living with HIV,” the Health Department said.
The department believes that the implementation of “test and treat” will contribute to the National Development Plan goal of increasing life expectancy to at least 70 years by 2030.