by AKANI CHAUKE
JOHANNESBURG – PRESIDENT Cyril Ramaphosa is encouraged by progress made by the government over the last decade in efforts to reduce the number of new human immune-deficiency (HIV) infections.
New infections have been reduced by 60 percent during the period, he disclosed ahead of the World AIDS Day marked year on December 1.
Ramaphosa said the government’s treatment programme had contributed to a reduction in the number of deaths due to the Acquired Immo-Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) by 60 percent.
There has been a greater reduction in HIV-related deaths among young people inSouth Africa.
Ramaphosa said while the government had reduced deaths and new infections, it was still far from reaching the goal the government committed itself in 2016 of achieving a 75 percent reduction in HIV infections by 2020.
“If we succeed in doing so, we are likely to end AIDS as a public health threat by 2030,” the president said.
Besides a massive rollout of antiretroviral (ARV) treatment, at the beginning of the decade, South Africa expanded programme to prevent mother to child transmission (PMTCT) of HIV.
It now has one of the highest rates of coverage of PMTCT in Southern Africa, which has substantially reduced rates of infection among children.
South Africa continues to have the largest number of people living with HIV in the world.
This is partly blamed on the controversial response to the scourge by the administration of then-president Thabo Mbeki.
In 2018, some 7,7 million people were living with HIV in South Africa.
The prevalence among adults (15–49 years) was 20,4 percent.
Ramaphosa concluded that ultimately, his country would achieve the end of AIDS through the empowerment of young people, women and other people at risk.
“The people of South Africa have come so far, endured so much and made such great progress in the fight against HIV, AIDS and Tuberculosis,” he said.
– CAJ News