Tue, 15 Oct 2019

SA cannot afford to be complacent in its drive to end the HIV/Aids pandemic and must continue to reduce new infections, Deputy President David Mabuza has said.

"We must step up our fight and ensure that we implement targeted research and policy implementation measures to reverse new infections, and provide support to those already infected and affected by this epidemic."

He was speaking on the final day of the ninth SA National Aids Conference at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre in Durban on Friday.

Mabuza said work done by the University of Cape Town suggests that there are approximately 7.4 million South Africans who are HIV positive. And of that group, SA currently has 4.9 million people living with HIV who are on treatment.

He said the country would have to provide another two million ARVs by December 2020.

"Whereas our comprehensive HIV response is being hailed as a success, what is clear is that we are not doing well in preventing new infections of the virus."

Mabuza said there were an estimated 250 000 new infections annually.

"Our target should be to eliminate new infections."

He said that "stigma and discrimination" remained a contributing factor in not reaching desired targets.

"We are called upon all to value every human being, and we should assist those infected and affected to overcome their condition in order to reach their full potential."

Mabuza said pupils, especially adolescent girls and young women, would be getting focused attention from the government.

"This entails a holistic approach to sexuality, starting from age appropriate life skills education in schools, so that young people have an understanding of their own bodies. We are approaching this work with utmost care and caution, so that we do not prematurely sexualise our children."

He said young boys would also be given attention, to prevent early exposure to HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.

"Of concern is that the age of the first sexual debut amongst young boys is decreasing, thereby making them vulnerable to this epidemic. We must ensure that young boys do not become fathers without planning."

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