HIV: talk about it

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Pretoria - Government is encouraging social dialogue on HIV and Aids to be the main focus this year's World Aids Day, to dispel the myths around the condition which touches millions of South African lives.

The day is observed annually on 1 December and a number of activities are expected to take place, which will call on every individual to take action against the scourge of HIV and Aids.

Instead of the usual celebrations, this year, President Jacob Zuma will be visiting Piet Retiet in Mpumalanga, where he will participate in a dialogue to engage community members and health care workers.

Cabinet members, including MECs, will also participate in social dialogue around the country on how to reduce new HIV infections.

Themed 'We are responsible', the World Aids Day 2010 addresses the collective responsibility of all South Africans to influence and support partners, family and community members to voluntary test for HIV and set an example by leading healthier lifestyles.

It also addresses the collective responsibility for the world to start contributing towards a common HIV response.

Mark Heywood, from the South African National Aids Council, has urged every individual in the workplace, schools and churches to take part in discussions on HIV infection.

"World Aids Day is an opportunity for us to take stock of where we are and re-energize [our] response to HIV," he said.

This year, government introduced the HIV, Counselling and Testing Campaign, which set out to get 15 million people tested for HIV by June 2011. To date, over 3 million have tested.

Heywood said the current number of people tested was a significant step forward, but stressed that 12 million more people needed to get tested.