In 2003 the South African Cabinet approved the use of antiretrovirals (ARVs) in the public sector and in early 2004 the programme started. Now in its fifth year, government often claims that it is the "largest treatment programme in the world".
In November 2003 the Cabinet approved a national plan for HIV/ Aids prevention, care and treatment. The plan estimated that 53 000 people would be placed on anti-retroviral (ARV) treatment by the end of March this year. Eight months on, fewer than 10 000 people with HIV/Aids are receiving anti-retrovirals through the public health system.