SA united behind HIV/AIDS campaign

Friday, March 26, 2010

Johannesburg - The healthcare sector and South Africans from all walks of life have rallied behind the country's biggest ever HIV Counselling and Testing (HCT) campaign to be launched on 15 April.

"We are absolutely united and ready to take the bull by its horns, we need to stand up and confront our challenge as South Africans," Health Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi said on Thursday.

Through the campaign, the department is targeting people from the age of 12 and older with the hope of reaching 15 million people by June 2011.

Outlining the department's readiness to implement the campaign ahead of its official launch on 15 April 2010, Motsoaledi said a number of activities will take place including the dissemination of information, education and mass mobilization.

Other activities include massive voluntary HIV counselling and testing, wide provision of female and male condoms and mass skills education for learners. A plan to introduce medical male circumcision on a large scale will also be discussed.

"The counseling and testing shall take place at all government hospitals and clinics, all universities and FET campuses and mobile units will be deployed to villages, rural areas and other remote areas of the country," Motsoaledi said.

He added that the campaign was not only for counselling and testing but for blood pressure, hypertension and blood sugar measurement. People will also be screened for Tuberculosis.

However, Motsoaledi stressed that HIV testing is confidential and people need not disclose their status publicly, but encouraged them to disclose their status to friends and family.

"We are trying to avoid a situation, whereby a minister or celebrity discloses his or her HIV status, then the media will start chasing other people asking them to disclose. There will come a time where South Africa will be able to disclose," he said.

SANAC Deputy Chairperson, Mark Heywood, said the campaign can save millions of lives and urged every South African to rally behind it.

"We need everyone to give us a chance to succeed in this campaign, we are united and can't afford for this campaign to be a failure.