SouthAfrica.info (Johannesburg)

South Africa: World Aids Day - SA Targets Men, Youth

South Africa's focus for this year's World Aids Day will be on encouraging young people and men to take the test so that they know their HIV status.

The national event, which will take place at Potchefstroom in North West province on Saturday, will be held under the theme "A re Dlale - Safe for Zero new HIV and TB infections".

"We are trying to appeal to young people by making use of this theme that combines tsotsi taal, African Languages and English, because we really want our young people to play very safe for zero new infections," Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi said on Thursday.

The global theme for World Aids Day, which was announced last year and will run until 2015, comprises three messages: "Zero New HIV infection, Zero Discrimination, and Zero Aids related deaths".

Motsoaledi noted that South Africa has subscribed to the global World Aids Day target of getting to Zero by 2015.

Over 20-million take the test

He said that through the new National Strategic Plan on HIV and Aids, STIs and TB that runs from 2012 to 2016, the government is hoping that every South African, including the youth, will get in the habit of testing at least once every year.

Over 20-million South Africans have voluntary tested for HIV since the launch of the government's HIV counselling and testing campaign in April 2010.

During this year's World Aids Day event, Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe will be joined by Motsoaledi and Sport Minister Fikile Mbalula, as the event also aims to target sports.

He said they were concerned about older men and wanted to encourage them to get tested, therefore this year's main event would be celebrated through soccer.

Football against HIV/Aids

Motsoaledi said that from this year onwards, soccer matches would form part of every campaign to help encourage men to go and get tested.

"We are happy that CAF, together with UNAids, have agreed to work together to make sure that next year, when the Afcon is in South Africa, one of the many events you'll see is the issue of HIV and Aids."

South African National Aids Council chief operations officer Zwo Nevhutalu stressed that this year's World Aids Day would be about prevention. "If we don't put more effort on prevention, we might not be able to win the battle of HIV and Aids," he said.

The campaigns will include testing in shopping malls, activation messages in store fitting rooms, messages to mobile phones, mobi sites and advertisements on buses.

The event on Saturday will kick off with a 4km walk followed by testing, with the main event to be followed by a soccer match.

Nevhutalu also thanked the Premier Soccer League for allowing them to use the Telkom challenge, which takes place in Durban, to send messages.

"Thousands of condoms would be distributed on the day, and the testing sites will be stationed at the perimeters of the stadium."

 SANews.gov.za

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