Durban — EThekwini mayor, Mxolisi Kaunda, has condemned blessers who demand unprotected sex from blessees.
Kaunda said it was wrong of men to suppress the thinking of young girls just because they buy them expensive gifts. He said this during the launch of the U=U (Undetectable = Untransmittable) campaign.
The campaign aims to educate and create awareness about the ground-breaking scientific evidence that people living with HIV, who are on treatment as prescribed, can suppress the virus and not transmit it to their partners and unborn babies.
The campaign is a partnership between the City and the UN Programme on HIV/Aids (UNAids).
Kaunda said: “Men must not use their financial capacity to demand unprotected sex from young girls. It’s not only men, even women with money do this. It is wrong.”
He said with the Undetectable is equal to Untransmitable campaign, they want to encourage communities to know their HIV status, and if they test positive, to start treatment to reduce the viral load to undetectable levels.
“At the same time, we are demonstrating to the world that eThekwini Municipality remains committed to the fight to end Aids by 2030,” he said.
Kaunda raised further concerns about men who did not want to get tested and know their status.
“We must find innovative ways to convince men about the benefits of getting tested early as we intensify our educational campaigns.
“We also want to emphasise that people must continue to use condoms because there is still a high rate of sexually transmitted illnesses in the city. For this reason, we keep on reiterating the use of ARVs and condoms as the greatest benefit ever,” said Kaunda.
Through this initiative, they have seen the overall viral load suppression rate among patients improve from 62.8% to 77.5%, he said.
“We are pleased that through these initiatives more people are living longer, with the average life expectancy increasing to over 64. Currently, South Africa has the biggest antiretroviral treatment programme in the world. We encourage people to get tested and take ARVs so that they can be virally suppressed,” said Kaunda.
He said the City is not only encouraging people to get tested for HIV but is making every effort to link them to care if they test positive.
“Recently, 10 498 people tested positive for HIV and 9598 were linked to care, which translates to a 91.4% linkage rate. We have also started a new campaign of actively tracing previous patients who have defaulted on treatment from various health facilities.”
Zonke Ndlovu, chairperson of the Lubanzi Ulwazi resource centre for people living with HIV, said this campaign came at the right time to fight the stigma and discrimination.
“We want to empower people living with HIV and make them understand what it means to be undetectable.”
SA National Aids Council (Sanac) CEO, Dr Thembisile Xulu, said some patients who were on treatment for HIV fell off during the Covid-19 pandemic and had to be identified.
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