South Africa: Premier Sihle Zikalala Praises Progress Being Made in Fight Against HIV/Aids Pandemic

press release

KwaZulu-Natal Premier Mr Sihle Zikalala has blamed the phenomenon of "Blessers" for the continued rise in the HIV infection rate in KwaZulu-Natal, while praising progress being made in the fight against the pandemic.

"About 7.7 million South Africans have HIV, making us to have the biggest epidemic globally. As things stand, KwaZulu-Natal remains the epicentre of the disease in South Africa. In KZN alone, about 2 013 741 people (more than two million) are living with HIV," said Premier Zikalala.

Premier Zikalala was addressing the provincial World Aids Day event which was held in Manguzi in the most northern part of the province, Umkhanyakude District.

While World Aids Day is an opportunity for us to remember solemnly all those who have passed away due to this epidemic, it is also a chance for us to appreciate all the scientific advancements that have been made to weaken the impact of HIV/AIDS globally, which was once an unstoppable pandemic.

Premier Zikalala said 'Blessers' should stop buying young girls airtime or giving them pocket money in order to have sex with them. Premier Zikalala encouraged young people to abstain from having sex for as long as possible.

"Young people must abstain from sex and when they do decide to have a partner they must get tested together and ensure they use condoms. The call is for all of us to Cheka Impilo, to check regularly to make sure they are negative. Should you discover that you are positive, start taking ARTs and do so in strict compliance with the guidelines," said Premier.

The provincial breakdown shows that all provinces have achieved the first 90 target, with KwaZulu-Natal performing the uppermost at 93. We applaud, in particular, the districts of Ugu, uMzinyathi, uMkhanyakude and Harry Gwala for successfully meeting their 90-90-90 targets by 2020.

Premier Zikalala also stressed that the province would be intensifying the campaign to ensure that the AIDS pandemic would be reversed in the province. The Premier also announced that the province had to increase the number of adult men on ART by 570,096, adult women by 480,401 and children by 58,963. It also says that we need to focus on initiation onto ART and ensuring that people do not default on their treatment.

This year's World Aids Day takes place in the midst of Covid-19, an even deadlier global pandemic that is currently gripping South Africa and KwaZulu Natal which now occupied third place.

"'KwaZulu-Natal has now had a total of 127 506 confirmed COVID - 19 cases, with 6212 still being active. Sadly, we have lost 3340 people, while thankfully, 117 964 have recovered. As the Province of KwaZulu-Natal we are currently ranked the third highest countrywide, after Gauteng and the Western Cape, in terms of laboratory-confirmed cases. But we are ranked at number 4, after Gauteng, Western Cape and the Eastern Cape in terms of COVID - 19 fatalities.

Premier said it was necessary not to allow the province to become the centre of the Covid-19.

"We will soon be the liquor industry to install cameras around taverns and places of entertainment in order to monitor the abuse of alcohol and the breakdown in the adherence to the regulations. Those who violate Covid-19 regulations must have their licenses revoked," said the Premier Zikalala.

The Premier stressed that the province has a responsibility to protect Women, Children and people with albinism.

"This area of uMkhanyakude leads the country with the highest rate of the killing of people with albinism, but we are however pleased that the community has worked together to reduce the scourge. People with albinism are human beings just like all of us. They must be given the same respect that we give to every human being. People with albinism do not have any special qualities for which they should be murdered for their body parts"

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