7.7m peo­ple: SA is los­ing HIV bat­tle

7.7M PEO­PLE: COUN­TRY’S RATE OF IN­FEC­TION STILL HIGH­EST IN WORLD

The Citizen (KZN) - - Front Page - Brian Sokutu bri­[email protected]­i­zen.co.za

Deputy pres­i­dent to ad­dress meet­ing of the SA Na­tional Aids Coun­cil to­mor­row.

With the SA Na­tional Aids Coun­cil (Sanac) meet­ing in Mpumalanga to­mor­row set to take stock of strides made in stamp­ing out the scourge of HIV/ Aids, tu­ber­cu­lo­sis (TB) and sex­u­ally trans­mit­ted dis­eases (STDs), the coun­cil yes­ter­day con­ceded the coun­try con­tin­ued to record the high­est and most high-pro­file HIV epi­demic in the world.

Ac­cord­ing to Sanac spokesper­son Co­ceka No­go­duka, last year the coun­try had an es­ti­mated 7.7 mil­lion peo­ple liv­ing with HIV. There were 240 000 new in­fec­tions and 71 000 had died from Aids-re­lated ill­nesses.

Ac­count­ing for a third of all new HIV in­fec­tions in south­ern Africa, SA had a higher in­ci­dence rate among women aged 15 to 24.

The num­ber of new in­fec­tions in women was three times higher than their male coun­ter­parts and HIV preva­lence re­mained high at 20.4% in the gen­eral pop­u­la­tion – although sta­tis­tics var­ied markedly among prov­inces.

“HIV preva­lence is al­most 12.2% in KwaZulu-Natal, com­pared with 6.8% and 5.6% in North­ern Cape and West­ern Cape, re­spec­tively,” said No­go­duka.

The Mpumalanga meet­ing of Sanac’s high­est de­ci­sion-mak­ing body, com­pris­ing gov­ern­ment, civil so­ci­ety and busi­ness will be ad­dressed by Deputy Pres­i­dent David Mabuza in his ca­pac­ity as chair. Strate­gies, pro­grammes and the dis­ease preva­lence will be dis­cussed.

The meet­ing will be tak­ing place ahead of the re­lease on World Aids Day of Mabuza’s na­tional strate­gic plan for HIV, TB and STDs on De­cem­ber 1.

De­spite the coun­try hav­ing the largest an­tiretro­vi­ral treat­ment pro­gramme in the world, serv­ing an es­ti­mated 4.4 mil­lion peo­ple, No­go­duka said it was “con­cern­ing to find very lit­tle be­hav­iour change seem to have oc­curred”.

“It has been found that con­sis­tent con­dom use is low and there is an in­crease of early sex­ual de­but, be­fore the age of 15 years, es­pe­cially among males, com­pared to 2012.

“It has also been es­tab­lished that over a third of young women had sex­ual re­la­tion­ships with older men, de­spite pro­grammes and in­ter­ven­tions im­ple­mented.

“South Africa has made some progress...” she said.

“In terms of the Unaids [joint United Na­tions pro­gramme on HIV/Aids] 90-90-90 tar­gets, 85% of peo­ple liv­ing with Aids aged 15 to 64 years, have tested for HIV and know their pos­i­tive sta­tus.

“Seventy-one per­cent of this sub-group are on an­tiretro­vi­rals and 86% are vi­rally sup­pressed.

“This shows that the coun­try has made sig­nif­i­cant progress to­wards reach­ing the 90-90-90 tar­gets.”

In an ef­fort to ad­dress the dis­ease im­pact, the coun­try has launched ini­tia­tives which in­clude the Cheka Impilo cam­paign, aimed to ac­cel­er­at­ing screen­ing and test­ing for HIV, TB and STDs and also in­clud­ing non-com­mu­ni­ca­ble dis­eases like hy­per­ten­sion and di­a­betes.

“This cam­paign is im­ple­mented along­side the so­cial be­hav­iour change drive that seeks to ad­dress spe­cific be­hav­iours among the dif­fer­ent pop­u­la­tion groups.

“It aims to em­power ado­les­cent girls and young women.

“The other ini­tia­tive is the Takuwani Ri­ime [let us stand up to­gether, in Tshiv­enda], which seeks to en­gage men’s ac­tion and re­sponses to ad­verse so­cial con­di­tions and for them to take ac­count­abil­ity for their con­tri­bu­tion in re­solv­ing so­cial chal­lenges af­fect­ing their com­mu­ni­ties,” she said.

Con­sis­tent con­dom use is low

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