South Africa will tomorrow [Friday] observe World Aids Day 2017 under the theme: ‘It is my right to know my status. Prevention is my responsibility’.
The theme encourages South Africans to make their actions count and to take personal and collective responsibility to prevent new HIV and TB infections.
Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa will address the national commemoration event at the Walter Sisulu University Stadium in Mthatha, in the Eastern Cape.
The Deputy President is also the Chairperson of the South African National Aids Council (SANAC), which is hosting the commemoration.
In a recorded message ahead of World Aids Day, Deputy President Ramaphosa said this is a time to remember those who have lost their lives to the twin epidemics of Aids and Tuberculosis.
“It is also a time to reflect on the extraordinary progress that we’ve made as a nation in the fight against Aids and TB. It is also a time when we recommit ourselves to the achievement of an Aids-free generation,” he said.
As part of the World Aids Day activities, Deputy President Ramaphosa will engage in a dialogue session with traditional leaders at The Great Palace in Bhumbane, in Mthatha.
World Aids Day is commemorated internationally each year on 1 December. The Presidency said this is an opportunity for everyone to unite in the fight against HIV, to show support to those infected and affected and to remember those who passed on from diseases associated with HIV.
According to SANAC, South Africa hopes to reduce new HIV infections by more than 60% from an estimated 270 000 in 2016 to below 100 000 by 2022. The country also aims to reduce TB incidence by at least 30% from 450 000 to 315 000.
South Africa has a National Strategic Plan (NSP) — a roadmap for united action to take the country’s HIV, TB and Sexually Transmitted diseases response to a new level and overcoming these major public health challenges.
One of the success stories that the country has achieved in recent years was to place increasing number of HIV infected citizens under treatment.
SANAC said about 3.7 million citizens are on ARV treatment, which also helps to reduce the death rate, but it acknowledges that work is not so well done in protecting people from HIV infections.
Government continues to encourage citizens to do away with stigmatisation and discrimination against people living with HIV and TB, and calls on all to protect their human rights.
Citizens are also encouraged to check their HIV status regularly so that they can stay negative or receive care to remain healthy; get screened for TB if they have cough that is not going away or if they know someone who has TB; to act against gender based violence and alcohol abuse; and to protect young women and girls against HIV infections and teenage pregnancies.
Government has encouraged citizens to join the world in observing the World Aids Day.
The South African Medical Association (SAMA) has also added its voice in a call for citizens to continually educate themselves about HIV, and appreciate that people living with the disease can live full and happy lives.
The association has reminded all health professionals and the public to observe World Aids Day on 1 December.
Some of the main objectives of the World Aids Day is to:
- guide the increase of the prevention and control measures set in place for HIV and AIDS;
- offer technical support for implementing a plan of prevention and treatment for HIV and Aids including, testing, counselling;
- STI control and antiretroviral therapy;
- make people aware of the antiretroviral medicines or other commodities which can help them to fight HIV and Aids; and to
- decrease and control the number of patients infected by HIV and Aids as well as to encourage people to practice safe sex by using condoms.
The association’s Chairperson, Dr Mzukisi Grootboom, said with the various scientific advances in HIV treatment, the country now has a much better understanding of the virus, and more people are receiving antiretroviral treatment.
He said government has since 2010 scaled up its antiretroviral treatment programme, treating more than 3.7 million people in 2017 compared to 923 000 people 2009.
“This means that HIV infection rates are decreasing and there is also great optimism around the progress towards a possible cure,” said Grootboom. – SAnews.gov.za