2 December 2013
South Africa aims to medically circumcise one-million men over the next 12 months, Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe said at the launch of the government’s medical male circumcision campaign on World Aids Day in Piet Retief, Mpumalanga province on Sunday.
“Our target is to circumcise one-million men over the next 12 months and cumulatively four-million men by 2016,” Motlanthe said, adding that the launch of the campaign, coupled with the re-launch of the HIV counselling and testing campaign, would strengthen the country’s massive HIV/Aids prevention effort.
Motlanthe said medical male circumcision had proven to be an effective component of the government’s HIV prevention package. Once 80 percent of South African men had been medically circumcised, half-a-million new HIV infections and 100 000 deaths over the course of the next decade would be prevented.
He added, however, that medical interventions were only part of the country’s efforts to fight HIV/Aids.
“We also need to ramp up our efforts to address the social determinants that fuel the HIV and Aids epidemic. These include disempowered women and children, who are often the targets of violence, poverty, the migrant labour system, intergenerational sex, transactional sex and many other structural issues.”
The re-launched HIV counselling and testing campaign aims to ensure that every South African gets tested at least once annually in order to know their status and take the appropriate steps to maintain their health.
Motlanthe said the starting point for preventing HIV/Aids was to know one’s status. “You may have tested in 2010 or 2011, [but] test again this year, and every year,” he said.
More than 20-million South Africans have tested for HIV since President Jacob Zuma first launched the campaign in 2010.
“In South Africa, the epidemic has matured and the acceleration of our response since 2009 has moved us beyond the ‘tipping point’, where the number of patients being enrolled onto treatment each year now exceeds the number of those who are newly infected,” Motlanthe said.
“However, the number of new infections still remains unacceptably high, hence the importance of maintaining our focus on prevention … Our response will not succeed unless we turn off the tap of new infections.”