SA needs to fight stigma attached to HIV, AIDS

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Pretoria - Attitudes to HIV and AIDS still need to change, says KwaZulu-Natal Premier Zweli Mkhize.

"We need to support the sick and help them to access the medication that government has made available to all," he said during the commemoration of World AIDS Day.

He told the gathering that people must eliminate the stigma and encourage people to take medication to completion.

"We must create a compassion net that makes people want to live and not give up for lack of hope. "

On fighting the pandemic, Mkhize believes that partnerships are the only tool to use to win the battle against HIV, AIDS and TB.

"We fully understand that the health of the nation can be measured by the extent to which government creates synergies. Building bridges over our divisions and creating a permanent and unified front to deal with socio-economic challenges. "

As part of the fight against HIV, AIDS and TB, he said more campaigns will be rolled out to help educate members of the community about these infections.

Among those are teams of doctors and nurses who have started visiting clinics to prepare locals to enrol for anti-retroviral (ARV) treatment.

The programme is also aimed at doing away with long waiting lists for ARVs for the sick in the province which has resulted in some people dying before accessing the drugs.

"We are advocating for communities to create a ward based grassroot response involving all sectors of the community and acting together outside party political and partisan interests to save our people from this pandemic. "

Mkhize said there was also a need to counsel the youth about the choices they need to make about their lives and create an understanding that there is a future for them to plan for and to live for.