South Africans unite against AIDS

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Pretoria - South Africans across the country will today unite with government and non governmental organisations in the fight against HIV and AIDS.

Government, headed by President Jacob Zuma, has committed to turn around the epidemic of HIV and AIDS, under the theme: "I am responsible, We are responsible, South Africa is taking responsibility".

The Commission for Gender Equality has expressed grave concern over the low number of HIV positive people in the country who were on anti-retroviral (ARV) treatment.

While the commission lauded government's plan to increase the roll out of ARVs by 2011, it said new figures released by the Health Department showed fewer people were on the drugs.

"We calling on all civil society organisations to work with government to ensure 80 percent of the people are on ARVs by 2011," said the commission said in a statement.

The commission said it would soon release its own report monitoring national and provincial HIV and AIDS plans.

Meanwhile, in KwaZulu-Natal teams of doctors and nurses are to start visiting clinics to prepare locals to enrol for ARV drug treatment.

This announcement was made to the public by the provincial Health Department. The programme is also aimed at doing away with long waiting lists for ARVs.

KZN has a massive backlog which has resulted in some people dying before accessing the drugs. Authorities hope the new plan will address this problem.

"We want to make sure that the HIV treatment is not only available in hospitals, but also clinics ... We want people to get the whole package at the clinics near them," said the provincial health department.

The Western Cape has also indicated its planning three pioneering initiatives in the fight against AIDS.

One initiative included placing HIV positive pregnant women on a regime comprising a trio of ARV drugs as opposed to the standard two-drug treatment.

The second initiative involved the roll out of ARVs to as many as 50 000 new patients and the third initiative would see state institutions adopt HIV testing as routine procedure.

Meanwhile, the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality has declared the period from 10 November to 10 December 2009 as "AIDS Focus Month", in which HIV and AIDS awareness events are being run throughout the municipality.

"The objectives of the AIDS Focus Month (and World AIDS Day) include encouraging HIV testing; maximising the involvement of the youth and the interfaith community; and mobilising communities around the 16 Days of Activism against Women and Child Abuse," Mayor Zanoxolo Wayile said in his message for World AIDS Day.

He encouraged all residents to actively participate in these initiatives.

"The possibility of an HIV-free generation is possible only when each one of us takes responsibility and does something to achieve this objective," said Wayile.

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