Nov 18, 2014 12:19 PM EST
The sharp 33 per cent decline in new HIV infections from 2001 to 2013 is a good indicator that there is increased awareness and understanding of the disease, and of its modes of transfer especially in high risk groups. According to the The Global Fund, the world registered 2.3 million new HIV infections in 2013. Despite the improvement in figures over the years, and with the production of good treatments that help infected people manage the disease and live longer lives with it; no cure has ever been found yet. But, while there is a global decline in number of new infections worldwide, the disease continues to spread in some areas of the world such as Southeast Asia and South Africa.
South Africa has the biggest and most high profile HIV epidemic in the world, according to statistics. In 2012, an estimated 6.1 million people were living with HIV, with 240,000 South Africans dying from AIDS-related illnesses.
Consequently, South Africa also has the largest antiretroviral treatment rollout programme in the world. Life expectancy has also increased by 5 years since the height of the epidemic. Moreover, these efforts have been largely financed from its own domestic resources. The country now invests more than $1 billion annually to run its HIV and AIDS.
In an effort to improve the HIV scenario, South Africa plans to spend $2.2 billion over two years to buy HIV/AIDS drugs for public hospitals, according to recent reports.
Speaking at a manufacturing plant of drugmaker Aspen Pharmacare, Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies said the government aims to buy three quarters of the drugs from local manufacturers.
"We are on the cusp of a very important tender worth 24 billion rand ($2.2 billion) by the Department of Health that is for the procurement of anti-retrovirals for 2015," Davies told reporters at Aspen's factory in the coastal city of Port Elizabeth.
South Africa awarded a $667 million two-year contract in 2012 to pharmaceutical firms including Aspen and U.S.-based Abbott Laboratories. Aspen, which won more about a third of that contract, will also be bidding this year.
South Africa has one of the world's heaviest HIV/AIDS case loads with the biggest treatment program. However, despite government efforts to spread the treatment, medical charities warned last year that many clinics were running out of the life-saving drugs.
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