20 million South Africans have been tested for HIV

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Pretoria - More than 20 million South Africans have come forth to be screened and tested for various diseases, including HIV, since President Jacob Zuma launched the HIV, Counselling and Testing (HCT) campaign in 2010.

The HCT campaign has been one of government's most important strategies to combat HIV and Aids and TB as it aims to ensure that people know their status so that they can receive early treatment.

"Since the President launched the national HIV Counselling and Testing campaign, over 20 million people have come forth to be screened and tested for various diseases. This campaign has indeed been a success," announced the Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe.

He was speaking during the launch of the Public Service HIV Testing and Counselling (HCT) Intensification Campaign at the Union Buildings on Thursday.

This campaign targets the public sector forms part of the Public Service Month programme of activities. It is aimed at improving the morale of public servants and also offers improved management of support services to employees in need of HIV and TB treatment, care and support.

The launch of the initiative on Thursday saw more than 900 public servants from all government departments getting the opportunity to test themselves for HIV and be screened for other diseases.

Motlanthe, addressing the event, highlighted that it was crucial for the public service to lead by example.

"It is important that we step up our campaigns and programmes within the public sector, ensuring that each employee is encouraged to know their status, to support their relatives to do the same and to promote a healthy life style overall. We must inculcate a healthy life style through the force of example," he said.

He added that the intensification of the HCT campaign was at once a gateway to the implementation of the new guidelines and initiating a culture of taking responsibility for our health and wellness.

"The NSP [National Strategic Plan] for HIV, TB and STIs has defined this intervention as one of the priorities in our response. We want to encourage other sectors to follow this lead and extend services to their employees and the communities in which they work.

"From all these intervention, we are confident that a future of zero new infections, zero discrimination, zero Aids-related deaths and zero new infections due to vertical transmission is within reach," he said.

Health Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi said he was happy that a campaign had been launched to target the 1.3 million employees of government.

He challenged public servants to eat healthily, exercise and stop smoking and drinking. "It is very important for this country," he said.