As we approach World Aids Day on the 1st of December, we are inspired by the many actions taken by South Africans from all walks of life over many years to achieve an AIDS-free generation.
We have the biggest HIV treatment programme in the world, with more than 3 million of our people on life-saving antiretrovirals.
People are living longer and fewer people are dying of AIDS and TB.
Life expectancy has increased from 53 years in 2006 to just over 62 years in 2013.
We have reduced mother-to-child transmission further.
This has been made possible because all of us have worked together and have risen to the challenge.
We have acted in various ways – big and small – to spread information, to fight stigma and to promote healthy lifestyles.
We have made protection our priority, from classrooms to sports fields, from the factory floor to our homes, from our bedrooms to our boardrooms, and all corners of our society.
Yet we are still face many challenges.
The number of new HIV infections is still extremely high, particularly among young women and girls.
We need to spread the word about prevention, encouraging all sexually-active South Africans to use condoms.
We need to encourage people to test for HIV and TB.
We need to ensure that all those who need treatment, receive treatment and that they remain on treatment.
Our theme for World AIDS Day is ‘Rise. Act. Protect.’
As a nation, we must rise to this challenge, determined and committed and confident that we can succeed.
As a people, and as individuals, we must act to inform, to support and to encourage. No action is too small. No contribution is wasted.
We must protect ourselves and those who are nearest to us. We must protect the vulnerable. We must combat stigma and create an environment in which all can feel safe and comfortable to test and be treated.
The end of HIV as a public health threat is in sight.
As we commemorate World AIDS Day, let us work harder and with determination to secure an AIDS-free South Africa and indeed an AIDS-free world.
I thank you.
SOURCE: SOUTH AFRICAN OFFICIAL NEWS