File photo: INLSA

Johannesburg - As commemorations continue globally for World Aids Day, Parliament, political parties and unions reiterated the call for more awareness on the scourge as well as the need for more funding.  

This year World Aids Day is being commemorated under the theme, "The right to know. Prevention is my responsibility".

The UN has noted that about 78 million people have been infected with HIV and 35 million died from Aids-related illnesses since the first cases of HIV were reported.

According to Statistics South Africa, 7.6 million of the country’s population were HIV positive. 

The report showed an increase from the estimated 4.94 million South Africans reportedly living with HIV in 2002. Other reports show that of the 1.8 million new HIV infections worldwide last year, 43% occurred in eastern and southern Africa, with women and girls disproportionately affected.

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Among many organisations commemorating the day was the National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu), which called for increased efforts in ensuring universal access to treatment and testing.

"SA remains with the highest rate of HIV infections in the world.. and a concerted effort is needed by all stakeholders to lower this percentage. 

"As Nehawu, we call for the distribution of condoms to be supplemented with sexual health education and awareness.

Adding to this was the African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP), which expressed concern over the lack of awareness on the disease, especially among young people, as well as the funding crisis facing NGOs.

“The ACDP believes there is a need to review the AIDS situation to encourage private giving to AIDS charities," ACDP Member of Parliament Cheryllyn Dudley said.

"There’s also a need to reinvent social media campaigns on HIV prevention that will target the youth of this generation creating interest and awareness of the continuing and very real dangers of HIV/AIDS."

Parliament meanwhile, commemorated the day by encouraging citizens to know their status in an effort to stop the spread of the disease.

"In 2016 the total number of people living with HIV/Aids in South Africa was estimated at approximately 7,03 million, however in an effort to try and curb the pandemic the country has put in place the largest HIV treatment programme in the world with more than 3.8 million people in the public health system on treatment.

"[We] encourage all South Africans to heed to the call of knowing their status, be responsible and prevent the spread of the disease."

IOL