TIME TO REDUCE RATES OF NEW HIV INFECTIONS, SAYS SOUTH AFRICAN DEPUTY PRESIDENT

South African Deputy President Cyril ramaphosa says that while South Africa has made commendable progress in providing access to treatment for people with HIV, the focus must now be placed on reducing the rate of new infections.

“As we mark World AIDS Day 2016, we are indeed facing an HIV infection emergency,” he said when addressing the main World AIDS Day commemoration at Daveyton, about 50 kilometres east of here, Thursday. While 3.7 million people are on anti-retroviral (ARV) treatment, there is an alarming spike in HIV infection.

“As we applaud our remarkable achievements in expanding ARV treatment to more than 3.7 million people, as we celebrate the dramatic reduction of mother-to-child transmission of HIV, as we welcome the marked increase in average life expectancy, we must be alarmed that the rate of new HIV infection remains stubbornly high,” he said.

Last year, an estimated 266,000 South Africans became infected with HIV. Each week, there are about 2,000 new HIV infections in adolescent girls and young women aged 15 to 24 years.

Ramaphosa warned that unless the country acts now to reduce new infections, the gains made in the struggle against AIDS will be eroded.

“Unless we act now to reduce new HIV infections, the health and lives of millions more South Africans will be put at risk. Unless we act now to reduce new HIV infections, millions more will be vulnerable to tuberculosis (TB). Unless we act now to reduce new HIV infections, we will struggle to sustain our ARV treatment programme,” he said.

If South Africa does not work to reduce the infection rate, many young lives will be lost, the Deputy President said.

Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK

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