SA marks World AIDS Day

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Pretoria - South Africa has joined the rest of the world in marking this year's World AIDS Day, with an emphasis on the need for access to HIV prevention, treatment and care for all.

President Jacob Zuma, addressing the national commemoration in Pretoria, announced that all babies under one-year with HIV would receive anti-retroviral treatment; expanded treatment for pregnant women to prevent the transmission of HIV to their children and said all patients with both TB and HIV will get treatment with anti-retrovirals if their CD4 count is 350 or less.

The measures are to come into force in April next year.

On Wold AIDS Day, various sectors from across the country have committed to rallying behind the fight against the disease.

In his World AIDS Day message, Cape Town Mayor Dan Plato called on every person to do their part to help deal with HIV and AIDS.

"Our biggest challenge in responding to HIV and AIDS is the cloud of secrecy and silence that surrounds it, which prevents people from being open about how HIV and AIDS affects them," he said.

The SA Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu) called on its members to get tested for HIV. In a statement, the union said as part of efforts to fight the disease it was operating a project to help teachers, orphans and vulnerable children in 20 000 schools across the country.

"We realise the importance of individuals taking responsibility for their lives and therefore urge our members to get tested, so that they know their status and take the necessary precautions."

The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) urged companies, especially in the mining industry, to take new action to combat new HIV infections.

"The face of the mining industry is fast changing from single sex to communal accommodation and we appeal to companies to take a conscious view of these developments," it said in a statement.

Trade union federation COSATU has applauded Minister of Health, Aaron Motsoaledi, on the progress he has made to date in fighting the disease. The union encouraged workers, shop stewards and leaders in the labour movement to join the campaign on voluntary HIV counselling and testing on 1 December.

The South African Municipal Workers Union said there had been a 'wind of change' in governments responses to the HIV and AIDS crisis.

It said South Africans must take responsibility for themselves, their communities and their workplaces to make HIV and AIDS history.