World Aids Day: know your status

HIV RibbonBy –

Pretoria – Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa has urged South Africans to continue to test for HIV in order to achieve an Aids-free generation.

South Africa will on 1 December join the rest of the world in marking World Aids Day.

“We need to spread the word about prevention and encouraging all sexually-active South Africans to use condoms. We need to encourage people to test for HIV and TB.

“We need to ensure that all those who need treatment receive treatment and that they remain on treatment,” said the Deputy President, who is also the chair of the South African National Aids Council.

He said government is encouraged by the actions taken by South Africans from all walks of life over many years to work towards achieving an Aids-free generation.

South Africa has the biggest HIV treatment programme in the world, with more than three million people on life-saving antiretrovirals.

People are living longer and fewer people are dying of Aids and TB. Life expectancy has increased from 53 years in 2006 to just over 62 years in 2013. Mother-to-child transmission has also been reduced.

“We have acted in various ways – big and small – to spread information, to fight stigma and to promote healthy lifestyles.

“We have made protection our priority, from classrooms to sports fields, from the factory floor to our homes, from our bedrooms to our boardrooms, and all corners of our society,” said Deputy President Ramaphosa.

However, the fight is not without its challenges, as the number of new HIV infections is still high, particularly among young women and girls.

The theme for World Aids Day is ‘Rise. Act. Protect.’

Deputy President Ramaphosa said the nation must rise to this challenge with the determination that “we can succeed”.

“As a people and as individuals, we must act to inform, support and encourage. No action is too small. No contribution is wasted.

“We must protect ourselves and those who are nearest to us. We must protect the vulnerable. We must combat stigma and create an environment in which all can feel safe and comfortable to test and be treated.”

The Deputy President was confident that the end of HIV as a public health threat was “in sight”.