HIV test challenge to South Africans

6 April 2010

South Africans from all walks of life have been called on to rally behind the country’s biggest ever HIV Counselling and Testing campaign, to be launched on a date soon to be announced.

Mark Heywood, deputy chairman of the SA National Aids Council, said the campaign could save millions of lives, and urged every South African to support it.

“We need everyone to give us a chance to succeed in this campaign,” Heywood said. “We can’t afford for this campaign to be a failure.”

Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi, outlining his department’s readiness to implement the campaign, said: “We need to stand up and confront our challenge as South Africans.”

Through the campaign, the department is targeting South Africans aged 12 and older, with the aim of reaching at least 15-million people by June 2011.

Motsoaledi said a number of activities would take place, including the dissemination of information, education and mass mobilization.

Other activities will include massive voluntary HIV counselling and testing, wide provision of female and male condoms, and mass skills education for scholars and student. A plan to introduce medical male circumcision on a large scale will also be discussed.

“The counseling and testing shall take place at all government hospitals and clinics, all universities and FET [Further Education and Training] campuses, and mobile units will be deployed to villages, rural areas and other remote areas of the country,” Motsoaledi said.

He added that the campaign was not only for counselling and testing, but also for blood pressure, hypertension and blood sugar measurement. People will also be screened for tuberculosis.

Motsoaledi stressed that HIV testing was confidential, and that people did not need to disclose their status publicly, although he encouraged them to disclose their status to their friends and family.

“We are trying to avoid a situation whereby a minister or celebrity discloses his or her HIV status, then the media start chasing other people asking them to disclose,” he said.

Source: BuaNews