World AIDS Day is commemorated each year on the 1st of December and is an opportunity for every community to unite in the fight against HIV, show support for people living with HIV and remember those who have died.
The theme this year is: “Communities make the Difference”.
HIV and AIDS in South Africa
South Africa has been relentless in its mission to turn the HIV, AIDS, and TB epidemics around and there are notable achievements to celebrate. A review of our efforts in addressing the HIV and AIDS epidemic over the past 20 years, paints a mixed picture. There have been many scientific advances in HIV treatment and we now have a much better understanding of the virus More people are receiving antiretroviral treatment, which means HIV infection rates are decreasing. There is also a scientific optimism around the benefits of treatment as prevention, and progress towards a cure and vaccine.
However, despite these advances, stigma and discrimination still persist for many people living with, or affected by HIV. Each year, WORLD AIDS DAY is an opportunity for all South Africans to remind ourselves that HIV is still a reality and that it is incumbent on all of us to continue fighting prejudice, stigma and discrimination.
South Africa has come a long way in the fight against HIV and AIDS and Government commit to the National Strategic Plan on HIV, Sexually Transmitted Infections and Tuberculosis.
A few years ago Government scaled up its antiretroviral treatment programme and continued to do so; this to bring South Africa in line with World Health Organisation treatment guidelines. All HIV-positive pregnant women receive lifelong treatment, regardless of their CD4 counts. Currently, HIV-positive pregnant women receive treatment until they stop breastfeeding.
Despite our many advances we still struggle to eliminate the stigma associated with HIV infection and the resultant discrimination. There are still people with limited knowledge of the facts about how to protect themselves and others.
Former President Nelson Mandela said: “Many people suffering from AIDS and not killed by the disease itself are killed by the stigma surrounding everybody who has HIV and AIDS.”
The devastating effects still include abandonment by spouse or family, social ostracism, job and property loss, school expulsion, denial of medical services, lack of care and support, and violence.
It also results in a lower uptake of HIV preventive services and postponing or rejecting care. Women tend to experience greater stigma and discrimination than men and are more likely to experience its harshest and most damaging effects.
For further information on the this : https://www.gov.za/speeches/world-aids-day-2019
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