South Africa marks World Aids Day 2014

DECEMBER 1, 2014

Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, who is the Chairperson of South African National Aids Council (SANAC), and Health Minister, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, will address a World Aids Day event at the Bronville stadium, in Welkom, in the Free State, on Monday.

World Aids Day is commemorated across the globe every December 1 in a bid to highlight awareness of the disease, show support for those living with it and remember those who have died from the illness.

This year's theme 'Zero stigma and discrimination' is aimed at ensuring that the rights of people living with HIV and Aids are not violated, and that discrimination on the basis of HIV, Aids and TB is not only reduced, but ultimately eliminated.

Cabinet last month called on all communities to support, care and accept people living with HIV and Aids.

South Africa, which continues to have the highest prevalence of HIV/AIDS infection in the world, has made great progress in working towards reaching the goals of the National Strategic Plan for HIV and Aids, TB and STIs 2012 – 2016.

Unfortunately, stigma and discrimination continues to affect the successful implementation of this strategy and has contributed to a lower uptake of HIV preventative services.

Cabinet urged all South Africans to practise safe sex, get tested for HIV at least once a year so as to make informed decisions on preventative measures, treatment, care and support; and for men and boys to take up medical male circumcision services.

Activists re-unite

The Treatment Action Campaign (TAC), which has been at the frontlines regarding HIV/Aids in South Africa, will mark World AIDS Day 2014 at an Activist’s Reunion in central Johannesburg which will see 150 leaders from HIV affected communities, law, entertainment, medicine, research and the media come together. among those expected are Constitutional Court Judge, Edwin Cameron; former Health Minister, Barbara Hogan; struggle icon, Ahmed Kathrada; social justice activist, Jay Naidoo, and performer Pieter Dirk-Uys.

"They come together to recall how, 10 years ago, people’s power broke political resistance to treatment for AIDS. In April 2004 an anti-retroviral treatment progamme started that has saved 2.5 million lives and prevented countless infections. It brought back health dignity and hope to people living with HIV, their friends and families," the orgnaisation said in a statement.

"We salute the health workers, government leaders like Dr Aaron Motsoaledi and activists whose personal commitment made this possible."

Over the weekend, Ramneek Ahluwalia, programme director for HEAIDS, a health programme directed at tertiary insititutions, urged South Africans “not to become complacent.

“It is critical that we turn off the tap of new infections,” said Ahluwalia in a statement.

“Every day about a thousand South Africans – most of them young women -get infected with HIV.”

Meanwhile, the City of Cape Town, said more men needed to be tested, “especially since unprotected sex remains a very real concern”.

Ahead of the day, the National Union of Mineworkers spokesman Livhuwani Mammburu said mineworkers remained “particularly vulnerable” to the spread of HIV.

TAC in trouble and needs your help

A month ago, the TAC announced a campaign to raise R10 million by Monday through a popular appeal to people all over the world saying it was in financial difficulty.  Last Tuesday, the organisation said it had thus far raised nearly R1.5 million.

"We have been humbled by the response! Hundreds of individual donations have been received, large and small. 60 world-class scientists and researchers, including Nobel Laureate and the discoverer of the Ebola virus, have joined together to pen an appeal to global donors," the campaign said. 
 
"There has been media about TAC and the unfinished agenda on HIV and TB every single day. Two people of with the greatest personal integrity in the world, Graca Machel and Archbishop Tutu have stepped forward personally to support TAC. Former UNAIDS Special Envoy to Africa, Stephen Lewis, has spoken out."

It said that the support it was recieving was an instruction to continue the battle.

"But much more importantly we regard it as a pledge against complacency; a pledge not to leave the field in the struggle to overcome HIV when millions are still denied treatment; when hundreds of thousands still die; while TB still rages out of control; when women and children are still raped and brutalised. We regard it as a sign of your commitment to the response to HIV and TB, to social justice and equality."

The TAC has appealed to everyone to;

  1. Tweet your reason for supporting us to #SaveTAC
  2. Make a donation at www.tac.org.za/donate
  3. Encourage two other friends to make a donation!