Vice President Jacob Zuma: «I am encouraged about the increased levels of awareness on HIV and AIDS.»
afrol News, 18 February - South African Vice President Jacob Zuma says that the HIV infection rate among young South Africans has declined from 22 to 15 percent during the last years. This was the result of an "increased levels of awareness on HIV and AIDS" among youths, he said.
Vice President Zuma yesterday spoke to the National Council of Provinces, where he was interviewed on the Pretoria government's successes and failures during the last year by the provincial delegates. When it came to the controversial AIDS policies of the ANC government, Mr Zuma said that these had proven successful.
- I want to assert that indeed we are making good progress in our fight against the pandemic, Vice President Zuma told the Council. "As we all know, there is still no cure for HIV and AIDS. Our strategy therefore does not just deal with treatment but also prevention; care and support; human and legal rights issues as well as research, monitoring and surveillance."
He added that he was "encouraged" about what he called "the increased levels of awareness on HIV and AIDS" as a result of government's prevention policies. This, according to Mr Zuma, "has resulted in the stabilisation in the HIV rate nationally."
The Vice President added that the most recent antenatal survey conducted by the Department had shown that "in the category of youth under 20 years, the infection rate has declined from 22 percent to 15 percent." This adds a new South African HIV prevalence number into the growing debate of the correct assessment of the AIDS crisis.
Vice President Zuma also addressed the question of the supply of antiretrovirals, which earlier had caused bitter dispute between South African AIDS activists and the ANC government.
Also in this field, said Mr Zuma, progress was being made in the implementation of the programme announced in November last year, of establishing one service point for antiretrovirals in each health district within a year and one service point within each local municipality within five years.
- The Department will be embarking on a major communication strategy in March to inform the public of these developments, the Vice President announced. There were still unresolved questions regarding the tenders for the purchase of antiretrovirals and the training of AIDS councillors, he informed.
Mr Zuma is also head of the South African National Aids Council (SANAC), which is the anti-Aids partnership between the government and civil society. He informed that SANAC had now been restructured and was re-launched last year with an increase in the number of sectors represented.
While working in SANAC, Mr Zuma had noted that the fight against the pandemic could not be effective without partnerships between government and civil society. However, he also warned that "we cannot afford to have people simply standing on the sidelines doing nothing but criticising. We need to move forward, working together."
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