30 November 2012

South Africa: World Aids Day - SA Must Build On Recent Gains in the Fight Against Aids

press release

The DA is fully committed to the global theme for World Aids Day of 'Zero New HIV infection, Zero Discrimination and Zero AIDS related deaths' and applauds the strides made by Government in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

In the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS)'s 2012 World AIDS Day report released this month South Africa was rightly commended for the gains that has been made in the battle against the pandemic. These positive developments include the following:

• A 41% reduction in the rate of new HIV infections, with new HIV infections falling by more than 50 000 in the last two years;

• Broadening HIV anti-retroviral (ARV) treatment coverage by 75% in the last two years providing 1.7 million people with lifesaving treatment;

• Reducing the number of children newly infected with HIV by at least 40%; and

• Reducing the number of AIDS related deaths by 100 000 in 2011 as compared to 2005.

South Africa increased the domestic investment against AIDS to US$ 1.6 billion, the highest by any low- and middle-income country and completed the competitive procurement of a three in one ARV treatment that has fewer side effects for pregnant mothers.

In the Western Cape, the focus of the primary healthcare system is on the prevention of disease and the promotion of health and wellness - with a particular focus on infectious diseases such as HIV/ AIDS and tuberculosis. Patients are actively encouraged to test for HIV. The Western Cape Department of Health is also rolling out a new HIV/AIDS programme with patients being put on ARVs once their CD4 count (measure of immunity in their blood) dips below 400 and pregnant mothers being placed on triple therapy.

Key objectives set by the Western Cape Government includes:

• The provision of anti-retroviral therapy to 135 018 children and adults during 2012/2013;

• An HIV counselling and testing rate of 98%; and

• Reducing the number of babies on the prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) programme who test positive to HIV at six weeks to 1.8%.

• The DA encourages every person in South Africa to get tested regularly and urge those around them to do the same. We must break the cycle of silence and stigma around HIV and turn the tide on this disease to ensure that the vision of 'Zero New HIV infection, Zero Discrimination and Zero AIDS related deaths' becomes a reality.

We can all make a contribution in the fight against HIV/AIDS. It is a battle we can only win by fighting together.

Denise Robinson, Shadow Deputy Minister of Health

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