A World First In The Race To Control The HIV Epidemic

Through the power of AI technology, innovation and hard-work, Ugu District in KZN first to achieve HIVAIDS epidemic control

Health Minister Zweli Mkhize, today officially announced that the first high prevalence district in South Africa, the Ugu District in Kwa-Zulu Natal (KZN) is declared to be in HIV epidemic control. Ugu has one of the highest HIV infection rates in the world with 27% of the population HIV positive, making the world-first achievement even more remarkable.

The Minister heralded the success as a result of hard work and dedication by the (KZN) Department of Health and thanks to innovative partners – like BroadReach, Vantage Technologies, civil society -and the support of funders PEPFAR and USAID. Ugu has achieved the 90-90-90 targets at the total population level, before anyone else and ahead of the UNAIDS 2020 target!

‘We are so proud to have been part of the Ugu journey since 2007, their success is testament to their leadership’s innovation and courage to embrace technology and new ways of thinking to achieve incredible results. Through embracing the power of data they have been able to focus attention on interventions that have real impact and guide their teams to success to save more lives’, says Dr. John Sargent, Managing Director of Vantage Technologies and Co-founder of the BroadReach Group.

What does epidemic control mean and what are the 90-90-90 targets?

In 2013, UNAIDS established an ambitious treatment target to help end the AIDS epidemic. The ’90-90-90′ targets1  as they are known, requires that:

  • By 2020, 90% of all people living with HIV will know their HIV status.
  • By 2020, 90% of all people with diagnosed HIV infection will receive sustained antiretroviral therapy.
  • By 2020, 90% of all people receiving antiretroviral therapy will have viral suppression.

Ugu’s Performance Against 90-90-90 Targets

The Ugu District in Kwa-Zulu Natal, South Africa is widely considered to be the epicentre of the disease as; 27% of the 3.1mn people living in the district are HIV-positive2(national prevalence is 20.6%), and it faces one of the highest prevalence of HIV amongst pregnant women, with 43.4% being HIV-positive3 .Ugu has achieved the 1st, 2nd and 3rd 90 targets at the total population level: with 93% of the population knowing their status, 90% of the HIV positive population (109,080 people) on anti-retroviral treatment (ART) and 92% of these patients are virally suppressed as of October 2019, meaning they are healthy, and their viral loads are undetectable. 

This achievement is no easy feat, especially considering the health resource constraints experienced in the public health sector. BroadReach Consulting has supported the Department of Health (DoH), as a certified implementing partner of Vantage Technologies, utilizing a combination of AI-enabled technology and health program management best practices, to support the KZN DoH to utilize their health resources optimally to help guide them towards achieving their 90-90-90 targets. Through their work with the DoH, they have empowered healthcare leaders with data-driven insights to strengthen their decision-making related to health program management and implement these decisions consistently and at scale.

1Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS); UNAIDS 90-90-90, An ambitious treatment target to help end the AIDS epidemic; 2014.

2Stats SA: Community Survey; 2016.

3The 2017 National Antenatal Sentinel HIV Survey Key Findings, South Africa; PEPFAR, CDC, WHO, Department of Health, South Africa, National Institute for Communicable Diseases, SAMRC; July 2019.

Distributed by African Media Agency (AMA) on behalf of The BroadReach Group.

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