Cape Town - Western Cape Premier Alan Winde took an HIV test ahead of World Aids Day to encourage people to take responsibility for their health, and find out their status.
The test was administered by the Western Cape Health MEC, Dr Nomafrench Mbombo.
World Aids Day is celebrated globally on 1 December each year with the aim of raising awareness, and reducing the stigma associated with HIV and AIDS.
The theme this year focuses on the importance of communities in fighting the epidemic.
Premier Winde said: "Communities play an incredibly important role in raising awareness of the disease and advocating for better care. From activists to health workers and adherence clubs, we have seen communities make tangible strides towards reducing the burden of HIV and AIDS on individuals, society and governments. However, we must continue to stress the role of the individual. It is imperative that people get regularly tested and know their status."
"Knowing your status will not only help you to access necessary health care if required, but will also allow you to take steps to ensure that you do not infect others. The test today was quick and simple. We need to remove the stigma around this disease by ensuring that testing for HIV is as routine as other health checks like having your blood pressure or blood sugar checked."
"I urge everyone to get tested, but it is especially important for those who fall into one of the higher risk groupings including: teenage girls and young women, men who have sex with men, substance users and sex workers."
Premier Winde has his finger pricked by Health MEC NomafrenchMbombo during the testing process. Video: David Ritchie/African News Agency
Mbombo said: "In the last financial year, the Western Cape Department of Health conducted 1.7 million HIV tests and started 41 318 new patients on treatment. A total of 87 846 residents belong to adherence clubs, which make it simpler for patients to collect their medication, and therefore remain on treatment. We cannot get complacent, testing and treatment are key to us beating this disease."
"The United Nations have set a target of 90% of people knowing their HIV status, 90% of those diagnosed with infection being on treatment, and 90% of people on treatment achieving viral suppression," Mbombo said.
"I encourage individuals to get tested, and then to encourage their friends, partners, colleagues and communities to know their status too. We must not feel ashamed or scared to get tested – knowledge is our power in treating and further preventing HIV."