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HIV and AIDS Pregnancies Considerably Reduced- South African Health Minister

The controversial health minister of South Africa, Manto Tshabalala-Msimang returned to spotlights when she announced that there is a considerable decrease in the HIV and AIDS pregnancies among the women of South Africa. No figures were given.

"This is mainly as a result of our continued focus on prevention as the mainstay of our response to combat HIV and lead to an HIV-free society," Minister told parliament during a speech on her departmental budget.

The data was derived from the number of pregnant women visiting the public antenatal clinics. The department and its partners have also developed the National Strategic Plan for HIV and AIDS for 2007-2011 which builds on the gains of the Strategic Plan for 2000-2005.

It aims to achieve a 50 percent reduction of new infections by 2011 and provide an appropriate package of treatment, care and support services. The package of care provided for in the plan includes counseling and testing services as an entry point; healthy lifestyle interventions, including nutritional support; treatment of opportunistic infections; anti-retroviral therapy and monitoring and evaluation to assess progress and share research.

She said We have re-launched the Government HIV and AIDS communication programme, Khomanani which has been allocated R190 million for a two year period. "This communication programme encourages responsible sexual behavior and mobilize access to treatment, care and support services for those who are infected and affected," she said.

Tshabalala-Msimang has long been at loggerheads with activists and doctors for her unorthodox views on HIV/AIDS. Her support of a nutrition-based approach to fighting the virus stands in contrast to mainstream scientific support for anti-retroviral (ARV) drug treatment.

Tshabalala-Msimang said on Thursday that more than 282,836 patients at 355 accredited facilities received ARV medication by the end of Marc
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