Hon Speaker, as you would no doubt know, HIV and tuberculosis epidemics have been some of the most profound challenges we have faced as a country. Our strategies and programmes continue to improve due to a better grasp of the scientific and social aspects of these diseases.
Over the past three years, a series of comprehensive studies and reviews have been conducted across the entire country and the findings have enabled us to develop a comprehensive, robust, evidence-based programme, as elaborated in our National Strategic Plan for HIV, TB and sexually transmitted infections for the period 2012-16. Over the same period, a number of highly impactful policies have been implemented to address the dual epidemics, including the social determinants thereof. These include the introduction of provider-initiated HIV counselling and testing, culminating from the roll-out of the world's largest HIV counselling and testing campaign. This campaign also helped us to identify people who are infected with TB, so enabling us to expand our interventions appropriately. Whilst providing treatment to those who are eligible, the new policies prioritised pregnant women and infants who have been exposed to HIV, as well as those co-infected with both HIV and TB.
Efforts to strengthen our health system include the introduction of new technology such as the GeneXpert machines, which make it possible to diagnose TB infection within two hours, thus improving cure rates. Most notably, we have increased resource allocation to the health sector across all three spheres of government to enable us to achieve our vision of a long and healthy life for all South Africans.
All these investments have moved us closer to our goals and, to date, some of the outcomes we have recorded include the following: over 20 million people have been tested for HIV since April 2010; over 10 million people have been screened for TB; the total number of people on treatment now stands at 1,9 million, which makes our programme the largest in the world; we have noted a decline in HIV and Aids-related mortality, especially among the 25-to 35-year age group; and the transmission of HIV from mother to child has decreased significantly over the past three years, from 8% in 2010 to 2,7% nationally.
Our programmes now include the School Health Programme, which was launched by the President last year, and we have begun screening and treating inmates for HIV and TB.
At the beginning of this month, the Minister of Health launched the introduction of the fixed-dose drug combination. This means that people on treatment will now receive one pill a day, instead of the three or more tablets they have had to take on a daily basis. This will improve adherence to treatment and reduce the costs of providing treatment to the large number of people who are eligible.
These achievements have not made us complacent. We continue to review our programmes and to introduce new and innovative approaches in line with international guidelines and protocols. In this regard, we will escalate the HIV Counselling and Testing campaign, by urging all South Africans to test at least once every year.
There will also be an activity in this regard here in Parliament. The Minister has been eager to have public testing and counselling launched for hon Members of Parliament, because, once the population has witnessed the leaders of institutions such as this House participating in campaigns such as these, it will encourage them and will go a long way towards reducing the stigma.
Prevention is the cornerstone of our response, and our National Strategic Plan emphasises the importance of scaling up prevention programmes across the length and breadth of our country. We have come a long way, and we recognise and acknowledge that more needs to be done. And, through multisectoral structures such as the SA National Aids Council, Sanac, the development community and many other community-based organisations, we will realise our dream of an Aids-free South Africa. Thank you. [Applause.]