HIV/Aids fight must put women first
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Durban - Young women should be the focus of any new funding procured by the government in the fight against HIV and Aids in KwaZulu-Natal.
This, said Professor Salim Abdool Karim, director of the Centre for the Aids Programme of Research in SA (Caprisa), would be valuable in the fight against the spread of the disease.
Karim was responding to a plea for assistance made by Premier Senzo Mchunu to international group, The Global Fund.
The fund invests nearly US $4 billion a year to support Aids, TB and malaria programmes run by local experts in more than 140 countries.
As the chairman of the HIV/Aids Council in KZN, Mchunu had explained to the group how the disease had been ravaging families and what programmes the province had undertaken to counteract more infections.
“HIV/Aids cannot be separated from the legacy of poverty,” Mchunu said.
He said HIV/Aids targeted the “softer targets” in society which were mainly its poor.
The premier indicated that while more programmes have been implemented by the government, more still needed to be done, hence assistance from The Global Fund was important. He told the fund that HIV/Aids needed to be fought on all fronts.
Because of the opportunistic nature of the disease, the premier’s office said it had taken a multidisciplinary approach, which included programmes such as poverty alleviation.
“This approach to prevention and treatment acknowledges that HIV/Aids is a societal issue as opposed to conventional thinking that it is a health issue,” Mchunu said.
Karim said KZN was the “worst” Aids-affected province in South Africa.
“There are several reasons for this including the legacy of the migrant labour in this province,” he said.
“Poverty is one of the contributing factors.”
The worst affected group in the HIV epidemic in KZN was young women, he said.
“This country cannot solve the problem of HIV without making a substantial impact on reducing HIV transmission in young women. To date the progress made in this group has been modest and there is an urgent need for greater investment focused on this group