SA ready to host World Aids Conference

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Pretoria – Cabinet says the country is ready to host the 21st International World Aids Conference from 18 to 22 July 2016 at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre in Durban.

The beginning of the conference coincides with Nelson Mandela International Day on 18 July.

Cabinet has encouraged South Africans to share their stories and showcase the positive turnaround in South Africa since the International AIDS Conference was last hosted in Durban in 2000.

“South Africa has invested heavily in its AIDS response in the last six years, resulting in the largest HIV-treatment programme in the world, which has saved millions of lives and increased life expectancy,” Cabinet said in a statement on Thursday, following its meeting.

Other achievements include the HIV Counselling and Testing (HCT) Campaign that tested 18 million South Africans for HIV and AIDS within a period of 18 months, with 10 million South Africans testing annually.

AIDS-related deaths in South Africa declined from 320 000 in 2010 to 140 000 in 2014, and mother-to-child transmission of HIV was reduced from 70 000 babies in 2004 to less than 7 000 in 2015.

TB is a key link and although TB deaths have declined from 70 000 in 2009 to less than 40 000 in 2014. TB remains the biggest killer of all infectious diseases in the country and globally.

Cabinet said government has successfully screened thousands of people in the vulnerable sectors of correctional services, mining and peri-mining communities.

“The prevention programme also prioritises girls and young women in the age group 15-24 years and aims to reduce infections; reduce teenage pregnancy; reduce sexual and gender-based violence; keep girls in school until matric; and increase economic opportunities for young women to try and wean them away from predatory older men,” Cabinet said.

Meanwhile, in a build-up to the conference, on Friday, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa is expected to launch the National HIV Prevention Campaign for Girls and Young Women at the Royal Agricultural Showgrounds in Pietermaritzburg.

The three-year campaign will focus on HIV infection, unwanted pregnancies, school drop-out, sexual and gender-based violence, unemployment and a shortage of economic opportunities for girls and young women.

It is estimated that girls between the ages of 15 and 19 are up to eight times more likely to be HIV positive than males of the same age.

The launch of the campaign will be attended by youth from different high schools, communities from all sub-districts of Umgungundlovu, as well as representatives from all nine provinces. – SAnews.gov.za

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