New research says the country is making considerable progress in the fight against HIV/Aids, as new infections decreased by 39%. File picture.
Cape Town - New research says the country is making considerable progress in the fight against HIV/Aids, as new infections decreased by 39%.

Research from the Institute for Race Relations (IRR) shows new HIV/Aids infections declined countrywide from 437705 to 266 931 between 2009 and 2016.

IRR analyst Tawanda Makombo said the decrease could be attributed to HIV awareness campaigns.

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“Campaigns on radio, TV and social media have helped educate people.

“The distribution of condoms has increased in public health facilities across the country.

“There has been a change in people’s thinking towards the disease,” Makombo said.

He said they predicted the decrease would continue throughout the year, but added that more still needed to be done.

“We need to see more campaigns educating people, especially young people.

"We also need to see more civic organisations coming on board,” Makombo said.

Department of Health spokesperson Mark van der Heever said there was a decrease in new HIV infections in the province, down by 27% between 2009 and 2015/16.

“In general this decrease has been ascribed to the use of combination HIV prevention. This approach entails the provision of condoms, HIV testing, PMTCT, MMC and others as they become affordable,” van der Heer said.

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He added that in 2016 there was a noticeable increase in new HIV infections among young women and girls.

Van der Heever said the province was doing well with putting patients on ARVs.

“This accounts for some gains, such as people living longer and HIV/Aids prevalence not going down. Adherence to treatment is critical for the success of the treatment programme. One of the 90-90-90 goals is to have 90% of those on treatment being virally suppressed.”

UNAIDS said the country had taken the lead in terms of number of HIV-positive patients on antiretrovirals.

the country has the largest HIV/Aids epidemic in the world, with 19% of the global number of people living with HIV/Aids, 15% of new infections and 11% of Aids related deaths. The organisation agreed that there had been a decrease in new HIV infections, as well as Aids-related deaths.

UNAIDS said that according to their statistics new infection had gone down 49% and Aids-related deaths 29% since 2010. “South Africa has the largest treatment programme in the world, accounting for 20% of people on antiretroviral therapy globally. The country also has one of the largest domestically funded programmes, with about 80% of the Aids response funded by the government.”

The organisation launched a national prevention campaign called "She Conquers" aimed at addressing the high number of new HIV infections among young women.

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Cape Argus