Speaking at the social sector cluster briefing on Thursday, Health Minister Manto Tshabalala Msimang said there had been a noted decrease from 30.2% in 2005 to 29.1% in 2006.
The decline is mainly among people under the age of 20 years followed by those between 20 and 24-years-old, according to the report.
The minister said the decline in the under 20 category from 15.9% in 2005 to 13.7% in 2006 suggested a possible reduction in new infections in the population.
“We are excited, our prevention messages are reaching the youth and that we have seen some behaviour change,” she said.
Tshabalala-Msimang said 282,200 patients had started using antiretroviral (ARV) treatment as at the end of April 2007.
“At least 335 public health facilities have been accredited to provide this service, including nine correctional service centres,” she said.
Tshabalala-Msimang said her department was conducting research on traditional medicine to ensure it was recognised and institutionalised.
This may result in the establishment of the council of traditional medicine practitioners.
The minister said the war against HIV and AIDS was continuing robustly, saying the National Strategic Plan for HIV and AIDS for 2007/11 had been officially unveiled.
The plan involves government's long time position on the prevention and treatment of HIV and AIDS, voluntary counselling and testing (VCT), nutritional support and healthy lifestyles as well as treatment of opportunistic infections.
Regarding the provision of basic services, government has restored dignity to more than 25,000 households using the bucket system in formal areas, Tshabalala-Msimang said.
“More than 25 000 buckets have been replaced between January and April 2007 by more appropriate toilets. From the current rate of delivery, it is clear that the December 2007 bucket eradication target will be met. Good momentum has been built by all spheres of government,” she said.
About 106,000 households, however, were still using the bucket systems by May 2007.
In addition, more than 17.3 million people benefited from improved water supply for the period up to March 2007 with only 7.2 million people still requiring access.
During this year's State of the National Address, President Thabo Mbeki highlighted the imminent national target which included the total eradication of bucket system by the end of the year.
The president said government aimed to provide accessibility to basic water by December 2008 and access to sanitation by December 2010.
Article published courtesy of BuaNews