Fight against HIV, AIDS must be intensified - Motsoaledi

Friday, November 6, 2009

Johannesburg - Health Minister, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, has urged people living with HIV and AIDS to work with government to intensify the fight against the disease.

"Let's stop fighting with each other but fight this virus together. We are a sober nation to fight the scourge of HIV and AIDS, we need to come out with guns blazing to fight it," Motsoaledi said.

Motsoaledi assured people infected that government was on their side and there to support them.

He said the South African National AIDS Council (SANAC), together with government, were committed to cut the rate of the infection by 50 percent by 2011 and ensure that 80 percent of people who need the treatment have access to it.

"Everyone needs to know his or her status and those who need to be treated must get the treatment," he said.

About 300 people, including people living with HIV and AIDS and health experts, were gathered at Midrand for the inaugural Positive Convention on Living with HIV and AIDS.

Themed, "Positive Convention - It's about living with HIV and AIDS", the conference focused on multiple aspects of living with the disease including social and personal challenges.

SANAC Chief Executive Officer, Dr Nono Simelela, acknowledged government's efforts in allocating more funds to health to ensure that the country did not run out of treatment.

"We urge anyone who has a problem regarding access to treatment to let us know as we want to address all the blockages. We are here for you and seek your guidance in order to achieve the goals of National Strategic Plan 2007-2011," Simelela said.

Constitutional Court Judge Edwin Cameron, who is living with the disease, paid tribute to President Zuma for his commitment towards the fight against the scourge.

"He showed us that he knows what must be done, he encouraged us to have no shame, discouraged the discrimination of people living with HIV and we must now end this stigma attached with the disease," said Judge Cameron.

Dr Mary Fanning from the Health Attache for the United States Embassy also commended South Africa for the strides made in testing, treatment and care, especially for orphans.

He also stressed the need for change of hearts, minds, culture and attitudes towards people living with the virus.

For every person who has been treated, two more becomes infected, Fanning noted.