South Africa: unite against Aids

1 December 2008

The South African National Aids Council (Sanac) has called on South Africans to “recapture the spirit that defeated apartheid” by uniting against HIV/Aids and taking action to prevent new infections and deaths from the epidemic.

“World Aids Day is not a day for celebration,” Sanac said in a statement on Monday, World Aids Day. “There are still too many deaths; HIV is still beating us.”

World Aids Day “recommits us all to take action,” Sanac said, adding: “In South Africa, that means personal recommitment to ourselves, our loved ones, our friends, our comrades.

“It means a recommitment to the five-and-a-half million people in South Africa who live with HIV that we will make health and support services available so that they do not die of Aids.”

Sanac urged South Africans to curb the spread of HIV by having safer sex, “which means reducing the number of sexual partners and consistently using condoms.”

Sanac also called on every South African “to ensure that they know their HIV status” so that, if they were HIV-positive, they could start receiving treatment before they got sick.

Anti-retroviral therapy (ART) works, Sanac said, and together with good nutrition would “greatly prolong and improve the lives of those living with HIV.”

Sanac also urged HIV-positive adults to take their children for HIV testing, saying that children with HIV had the right to receive anti-retroviral therapy and, like adults, responded well to such treatment.

The council said South Africans also had a duty to ensure that children from households affected by HIV/Aids were “protected and enabled to complete their schooling.”

Sanac is a national body established to advise the government on HIV/Aids, to monitor and evaluate the government’s HIV/Aids strategy, and to create and strengthen partnerships for “an expanded national response to HIV/Aids in South Africa.”

It is headed by Deputy President Baleka Mbete.

South Africa’s new minister of health, Barbara Hogan, who was appointed by President Kgalema Motlanthe in September, said her department would be focusing on improving the quality of South Africa’s health care services and tackling tuberculosis (TB) and HIV/Aids.

Outlining her priorities after taking office in October, Hogan said these were undoubtedly the biggest challenges facing the country’s health care sector.

Hogan said the government would be involving all sectors of society – including business, public servants, the youth, students, trade unions and the religious sector – in campaigning for the prevention of TB and HIV/Aids.

“We want to avoid quick fixes and promises,” Hogan said, adding that she wanted to steer clear of politics and “give something solid to the nation”.

SAinfo reporter

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