A volunteer hangs red ribbons, the universal symbol of awareness and support for those living with HIV, to mark World AIDS Day. Picture: Ashwini Bhatia/AP

Cape Town - As the world observes the 30th annual World Aids Day on Saturday, the Democratic Alliance called on all South Africans to take a moment to remember all of the countless South Africans who had died in the fight against the epidemic.

"To all those living with HIV/Aids, we commend your courage and bravery and trust that you will continue to fight for your good health and the rights of those living with HIV/Aids," DA spokeswoman Patricia Kopane said in a statement.

An estimated 7.5 million South Africans lived with HIV. Of this group, 19 percent were aged between 15 and 49. Despite having the largest antiretroviral treatment (ART) programme in the world, HIV/Aids continued to have a devastating impact on South Africa’s youth, she said.

"Young people are the lifeblood and future of this country and we should do much more in ensuring that our future is healthy and vibrant. This statistic paints a grim picture of how little we have accomplished in the fight against HIV/Aids."

Organisations such as the South African National Aids Council (Sanac), chaired by Deputy President David Mabuza, played a vital role in addressing the progress of HIV/Aids alleviation in South Africa, she said.

"As a society, we also have a collective responsibility to fight for better HIV awareness and treatment in our country. We need to build a South Africa where HIV/Aids is not a death sentence or a shame.

"On this World Aids Day, the DA commits itself to build One South Africa for All, where those living with HIV/Aids have access to dignified medical treatment and live free and full lives," Kopane said.

African News Agency (ANA)