29 November 2011

South Africa: Latest HIV Figures Paint a Worrying Picture

press release

The IFP has expressed its concern with the results of the 2010 National Antenatal Sentinel HIV & Syphilis Prevalence Survey released today, saying that it paints a perturbing picture.

The results show an increase of 0.8% in the HIV prevalence amongst antenatal women between 2009 and 2010.

"The increase in HIV infections amongst pregnant women is upsetting and it shows that the HIV/Aids pandemic continues to decimate South Africa's population, despite ever increasing government funding earmarked for the fight against it," said Ms Hilda Msweli, the IFP's health spokesperson.

Msweli said that the increase of HIV prevalence amongst pregnant women points to a failure in the overall strategy to fight the disease. "Despite our efforts to increase awareness about the disease, while advocating for abstinence, the use of condoms and circumcision as prevention techniques to stop the spread of the disease, today's results show that we are not yet making the desired impact in our fight against HIV in South Africa," said Msweli.

Msweli said that while government and civil society's efforts to combat the disease are laudable, South Africa needed to double its efforts to fight HIV.

"We need to increase our free testing centres. New Start, South Africa's largest non-profit HIV counselling and testing programme is currently only operating in six provinces, while they've had to close down their offices in Cape Town's CBD. Such organizations need our support. Similarly, the TAC is in financial trouble and needs government's assistance. We must support all those who are doing exemplary work at grassroots level. We must increase free testing centres. We must increase our efforts to educate South Africans about the disease. We must continue to call for responsible behaviour and an acute awareness that HIV/Aids does not discriminate between black and white or between rich and poor - it strikes when it is given the opportunity. We must also increase our efforts to educate, empower and embrace those affected and infected by the HIV/AIDS virus. This war is far from over - we still have a very long road to travel in our fight against HIV/Aids," concluded Msweli.

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