South Africa: Sanac Addresses COVID-19, HIV and TB Stigma

The South African National AIDS Council (SANAC) Inter-Ministerial Committee has resolved to increase communication in relation to COVID-19, HIV and TB.

In increasing communication, the SANAC IMC aims to address stigma and discrimination that prevents people from disclosing their status and timeously seeking medical care and treatment.

"We have to leverage on opportunities presented by our focused response to COVID-19. This includes the rollout of COVID-19 contact tracing, screening and testing services as an opportunity for increasing HIV and TB screening and testing.

"In order to ensure that we meet the targets that we have set for ourselves in the fight against HIV and TB, we must move with speed and determination so that no lives are lost unnecessarily to these pandemics," said Deputy President David Mabuza.

The SANAC IMC took the resolution to elevate and integrate communication to existing government communication in relation to COVID-19, HIV and TB during a virtual meeting convened and chaired by Deputy President Mabuza on Thursday.

The meeting was attended by the Ministers and Deputy Ministers from the ministries of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA), Health, Presidency, Justice and Constitutional Development, Sports, Arts and Culture.

The Deputy Ministers of Social Development, Public Service and Administration, Basic Education, and Police also attended the meeting.

The SANAC IMC meeting follows the 23rd International Aids Conference, held virtually from 6 - 10 July 2020, where South Africa participated under the theme "Resilience".

Deliberations at the IMC meeting focused on measures to integrate a collective response to the COVID-19, HIV and TB pandemics.

"The state of the national HIV and TB epidemics during the COVID-19 pandemic response highlights challenges and interventions being made in the implementation of the National Strategic Plan 2017-2022," said the SANAC IMC.

The IMC also deliberated on challenges experienced due to the COVID-19 pandemic, in terms of ensuring that there is no disruption of access to services for HIV and TB prevention and treatment by key populations.

Additionally, the meeting reiterated government's determination to forge ahead with the work of responding to HIV and TB in order not to reverse the gains of the past two decades, taking into account the constraints brought about by COVID-19.

The meeting also acknowledged the COVID-19 contributions from the United States government and the Global Fund to fight TB, HIV and Malaria.

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