South Africa unveils new HIV/Aids plan

1 December 2011

South Africa’s new national HIV/Aids plan aims to drastically cut new infections by further extending antiretroviral treatment while tackling the epidemic together with TB and addressing related human rights and stigma issues.

President Jacob Zuma launched the new National Strategic Plan (NSP) for HIV/Aids 2012-2016 in Port Elizabeth on World Aids Day, 1 December.

The plan proposes to deal with HIV, sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and tuberculosis (TB) together by adopting a holistic approach which includes preventative and therapeutic measures.

It also promises to do much more to tackle related issues of violence against women.

Five goals, four aims

The plan brings together five succinct goals and four aims, whose combined purpose is to quash new HIV infections.

The five goals are:

  • To reduce new HIV infections by at least 50% by using a combination of prevention approaches.
  • To Initiate at least 80% of eligible patients on antiretroviral treatment, with 70% being alive and on treatment five years after initiation.
  • To reduce the number of new TB infections as well as deaths from TB by 50%.
  • To ensure an enabling and accessible legal framework that protects and promotes human rights in order to support the implementation of the plan.
  • To reduce self-reported stigma related to HIV and TB by at least 50%.

The NSP’s four goals are:

  • To address social and structural barriers to HIV, STI and TB prevention, care and impact.
  • To prevent new HIV, STI and TB infections.
  • To sustain health and wellness.
  • To increase the protection of human rights and improve access to justice.

The ‘three zeros’ – plus one more

Launching the plan at the Wolfson Stadium in KwaZakhele, Port Elizabeth, Zuma said South Africa had also adopted the “three zeros” agreed to at the United Nations high level meeting in New York this June as a vision for the next 20 years.

“In addition, we added, as a country, a fourth zero, which aims to eliminate HIV transmission from mother to child,” Zuma said.

“The four zeros are: ‘zero new HIV and TB infection; zero new infections due to mother to child transmission; zero preventable deaths associated with HIV and TB, and zero discrimination associated with HIV and TB.”

Tackling violence against women

The President was pleased that the issue of violence against women was reflected in the new plan.

Recent research in South Africa showed that the country could prevent HIV infections in young women if they were not subjected to violence or intimidation by their partners.

“Government is prioritising the fight against the abuse of women and children through law enforcement as well as education and awareness,” Zuma said.

“We must also enhance our socio-economic interventions to deal with poverty, unemployment, food insecurity and inequality… These either contribute to the spread of HIV or worsen impact of the epidemic.”

The new plan will be implemented from April from 2012.

‘Everybody needs to get on board’

Eastern Cape Premier Noxolo Kiviet said that, for the strategy to work, everybody needed to get on board.

“Let’s ensure that these initiatives included in the NSP don’t go to waste but take us forward,” Kiviet said. “We hope that the information shared today will make a difference to the youth and assist us to achieve the triple zeros accordingly.”

Welcoming the launch of the new plan, Prudence Mabela, who has been living with HIV for 22 years, said everyone had to “walk the talk” when it came to implementing the plan.

She urged other infected people to take treatment, and those who had not tested to go find out their status.

“You can trust the public hospitals, I’m using them and they are helping,” Mabela said. “With the treatment you can live longer. I’ve taken TB treatment for six months and it’s effective, including the ARVs.”

Source: BuaNews