World Aids Day: Mkhize notes strides made in SA’s fight against HIV/Aids
Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize says the country has made tremendous strides in tackling HIV/Aids.
Mkhize was speaking at the 2020 government commemoration of World Aids Day on Tuesday.
He acknowledged that this year's events take place as the world tackles the coronavirus pandemic.
The country had adopted the UNAIDS 90-90-90 targets in 2014.
These targets aim to ensure that HIV/Aids ends as a public health threat by 2030.
So far, the country has done well in meeting these targets, the minister told guests at the event in Soweto.
"As we know these targets state that 90% of People Living with HIV (PLHIV) must know their status; 90% of those, must be on ART; and of those on ART, 90% must be virally suppressed.
"The country has witnessed significant progress towards these targets and is currently at 93-73-88.
“ART coverage remains highest among adult women, at 69%, whilst ART coverage in adult males is at 55%.
“ART coverage in children is the lowest at 46%," he said.
Mkhize said KwaZulu-Natal was leading in meeting the targets for the 90-90-90 goals.
"Three districts in KwaZulu-Natal, Ugu, Umzinyathi and Umkhanyakhude, reached their 90-90-90 targets at the total population level in December 2019, one year ahead of the original deadline.
"Due to the impact of Covid-19, it has been a difficult task to maintain HIV programme performance whilst dealing with the pressing urgency of this unprecedented crisis on.
“It is, therefore, encouraging that 2 additional districts, Harry Gwala, in KwaZulu-Natal, and Thabo Mofutsanyane, in Free State, have achieved 90-90-90 targets at the total population level, during the first 6 months of 2020," he said.
Mkhize also addressed the government's various efforts of ensuring that preventative measures were available such as condom access in public facilities.
"Both male and female condoms, MAX and MAXIMA and compatible lubricant are distributed for free in public health facilities and through other organisations and departments.
“We also continue to expand Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis in public health facilities.
"This is a pill that is taken daily orally to prevent the acquisition of HIV for everyone at substantial risk of acquiring HIV.
“In addition to PreP and condoms, our public health facilities continue to provide services for other sexual reproductive health seven and rights interventions such as other contraceptives, Antenatal Care and Termination Of Pregnancy," Mkhize said.
Deputy President David Mabuza shared similar sentiments and said it was important to empower young women as efforts to combat HIV/Aids would not be ineffective.
He also linked the importance of addressing gender-based violence which played a critical role in how women are treated by their partners.