PRETORIA, South Africa is observing World Aids Day 2017 Friday under the theme, “It is my right to know my status. Prevention is my responsibility”, which is aimed at encouraging people in the country to make their actions count and to take personal and collective responsibility to prevent new HIV and TB infections.

Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa will address the national commemoration event at the Walter Sisulu University Stadium in Mthatha in Eastern Cape Province. He is also the Chairperson of the South African National AIDS Council (SANAC), which is hosting the commemoration.

In a recorded message ahead of World Aids Day, Deputy President Ramaphosa said Thursday that this was a time to remember those who had lost their lives to the twin epidemics of AIDS and Tuberculosis. It is also a time to reflect on the extraordinary progress that we’ve made as a nation in the fight against AIDS and TB. It is also a time when we recommit ourselves to the achievement of an Aids-free generation, he added.

As part of the World AIDS Day activities, Ramaphosa will engage in a dialogue session with traditional leaders at The Great Palace in Bhumbane in Mthatha.

World AIDS Day is commemorated internationally each year on Dec 1. The Presidency said this is an opportunity for everyone to unite in the fight against HIV, to show support to those infected and affected and to remember those who passed on from diseases associated with HIV.

According to SANAC, South Africa hopes to reduce new HIV infections by more than 60 per cent from an estimated 270,000 in 2016 to below 100,000 by 2022. The country also aims to reduce TB incidence by at least 30 per cent from 450,000 to 315,000 over the same period.

South Africa has a National Strategic Plan (NSP), a road map for united action to take the country’s HIV, TB and Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD) response to a new level and overcoming these major public health challenges. One of the success stories that the country has achieved in recent years was to place increasing number of HIV-infected citizens under treatment.

SANAC said about 3.7 million citizens are on ARV treatment, which also helps to reduce the death rate, but it acknowledges that work is not so well done in protecting people from HIV infections.

The government meanwhile continues to encourage citizens to do away with stigmatization and discrimination against people living with HIV and TB, and calls on all to protect their human rights. Citizens are also encouraged to check their HIV status regularly and to get screened for TB if they have a cough that is not going away, to act against gender-based violence and alcohol abuse; and to protect young women and girls against HIV infections and teenage pregnancies.


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