Durban - South Africans must get involved in the national plan on HIV and AIDS by talking openly about the disease and getting tested regularly.
Speaking at the 4th Southern African AIDS Conference, Thursday, representative from the South African National AIDS Council (SANAC), Dr Susan Goldstein said each individual had a responsibility to help achieve the goals of the National Strategic Plan (NSP) for HIV and AIDS.
Dr Goldstein said people can contribute to the goals of the plan by knowing their rights and the rights of others as well as discussing the NSP with friends and family.
"Make sure that everyone in your community knows how to protect themselves from the HIV infection and that people are talking about HIV and AIDS and the NSP," she said.
She urged the public to support their friends, family and people in their communities as well as help to stop the stigma and discrimination of people living with HIV.
"This will encourage everybody to get tested and get treatment, care and support they need if they are HIV positive," she said, adding that the priority is to reduce the number of new HIV infections by 50 percent by 2011.
She added that another goal of the NSP was to ensure that by 2011, 80 percent of people, who need to be on anti retroviral treatment will be receiving it as well as ensuring that they also receive the full comprehensive package of care which includes nutrition and treatment of other infections.
Dr Goldstein further noted that building partnerships and AIDS competent communities through District AIDS Councils was very important.
"Offer your help to your district AIDS council or encourage your district to form one, this is where you can work with your church, trade union, traditional leaders women or youth organisations to make sure that people in your area know about AIDS," she told delegates at the conference.
SANAC is the highest body that provides strategic and political guidance, as well as support and monitoring for sector programmes for HIV and AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs).
SANAC is responsible for overseeing the implementation and review of the NSP for HIV and AIDS and STIs 2007 - 2011, as well as the National Comprehensive Plan for Management, Treatment and Care for South Africa.
The specific objective of SANAC is to advise government on HIV, AIDS and STI policy and TB strategy and related matters, create and strengthen partnerships for an expanded national response to HIV and AIDS in South Africa.