Umzimkhulu - Despite South Africa's successful antiretroviral treatment (ART) programme with about 4.2 million people on treatment and a successful prevention programme of mother-to-child-transmission of HIV, "the war against HIV and Aids still rages on relentlessly", Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Zweli Mkhize said on Saturday.
Mkhize celebrated the 30th World Aids Day commemoration at Umzimkhulu on the KwaZulu-Natal lower south coast, where he urged the people of the province and leaders from all sectors to double their efforts in the fight against HIV and Aids, the ministry said in a statement.
The event, organised by the Harry Gwala district municipality in partnership with the local Emvubukazi Methodist Church, was attended by the district’s municipal leadership and local church leaders.
According to research by the Human Sciences Research Council, KwaZulu-Natal had the highest prevalence of HIV infections in the country, where almost a quarter of the province’s population was living with HIV.
Despite the country’s successful antiretroviral programme and a successful prevention programme of mother-to-child-transmission of HIV, "the war against HIV and Aids still rages on relentlessly", he said.
Government was committed to addressing HIV and Aids holistically by eliminating factors such as poverty, illiteracy, and abuse in society, which aggravated the vulnerability of people.
“Presently, because of the sustained government, public, media, community, and various other campaigns, the majority of people know about the disease, but this has not completely ebbed the tide of infection because of our varying levels of social vulnerability in the country,” Mkhize said.
This year, South Africa was celebrating World Aids Day with the international community under the theme "Cheka impilo. Know your status", while also emphasising the importance of government’s ABC message - abstain, be faithful, and condomise - to avoid HIV infection.
The Umzimkhulu community joined others around the world with onsite HIV information, testing, and counseling for the local community attending the event.
Mkhize urged everyone to get tested and know their HIV status to curb the spread of the virus and debunk the stigma attached to people living with the virus.
“We should say no to stigmatisation and discrimination against people living with HIV and TB [tuberculosis] and protect their human rights,” he said.