South Africa marks World Aids Day

1 December 2015

As South Africa marks World Aids Day today, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa said the country had made great advances in its HIV treatment programme.

“We have acted in various ways – big and small – to spread information, to fight stigma and to promote healthy lifestyles,” he said. “We have made protection our priority, from classrooms to sports fields, from the factory floor to our homes, from our bedrooms to our boardrooms, and all corners of our society.”

South Africa had one of the biggest HIV treatment programmes in the world, he said, with more than 3 million people on anti-retroviral drugs.

It had resulted in people living longer. Life expectancy had increased from 53 years in 2006 to just over 62 years in 2013 and mother-to-child transmission had also been reduced.

“We are inspired by the many actions taken by South Africans from all walks of life over many years to achieve an Aids-free generation.”

Themes

The global theme for World Aids Day is “Getting to Zero”. South Africa’s approach is “Towards an HIV-Free Generation: Rise. Act. Protect. Zero.” It serves as a call to action for all communities.

“As a nation we must rise to this challenge determined, committed and confident that we can succeed as a people and as individuals we must act to inform and support and encourage.

“No action is too small, no contribution is wasted; we must protect ourselves and those who are nearest to us. We must protect the vulnerable, we must combat stigma and create an environment in which all can feel safe and comfortable to test and be treated. The end of HIV as a public health threat is in sight.”

Challenges

The country, though, still faced a few challenges. Young women and girls still accounted for a high number of new HIV infections.

“We need to spread the word about prevention, encouraging all sexually active South Africans to use condoms,” the deputy president urged. “We need to encourage people to test for HIV and TB. We need to ensure that all those who need treatment receive treatment and that they remain on treatment.”

He concluded that with harder work and greater determination, an Aids-free South Africa and an Aids-free world, was achievable.

Source: South African Government News Agency