Prac­tise safe sex to stop new in­fec­tions

CityPress - - Voices -

In­tro­duced in April 2004, South Africa’s an­tiretro­vi­ral (ARV) treat­ment pro­gramme to­day treats more than 3.4 mil­lion peo­ple. That fig­ure is the largest in the world for sim­i­lar pro­grammes.

South Africa is do­ing well when it comes to pro­vid­ing HIV treat­ment to those who are in­fected with the virus and those who need treat­ment to pre­vent in­fec­tion.

In its 12th year, the avail­abil­ity of ARVs has had a pos­i­tive im­pact on the life ex­pectancy of South Africans and it has dras­ti­cally re­duced Aids-re­lated deaths to about half com­pared with a decade ago.

The coun­try’s life ex­pectancy has in­creased to 63 years in 2013 – a stag­ger­ing in­crease of 8.5 years since 2005. Aids mor­tal­ity has also de­creased by more than 40% dur­ing the same pe­riod.

Th­ese are all great achieve­ments, but they should not lead us to a state of com­pla­cency. The num­ber of newly in­fected peo­ple re­mains very high, which – if not con­tained – will un­der­mine the strides made in the past few years.

Last year, 380 000 new in­fec­tions were recorded, bring­ing the num­ber of HIV-in­fected peo­ple in the coun­try to 7 mil­lion. Of those, 180 000 have died of Aids-re­lated ill­ness.

We should con­tin­u­ously use HIV-pre­ven­tion meth­ods that are freely avail­able – th­ese are ab­sti­nence, con­doms or pre-ex­po­sure pro­phy­laxis. Let us use them be­cause the HIV en­demic will not end un­less new HIV in­fec­tions are stopped and those in­fected are put on treat­ment.

This week, a vac­cine trial that aims to test the safety, tol­er­a­bil­ity and ef­fec­tive­ness of an HIV vac­cine was launched.

It will take four years be­fore the trial re­sults are re­leased.

Un­til then, let us pre­vent and stop new HIV in­fec­tions by prac­tis­ing safe sex.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.