The AIDS Office director of the South African bishops has said significant progress is being made in the AIDS response in South Africa.
On the 30th World AIDS Day anniversary on Saturday, December 1, Mrudula Smithson who works for the Southern Africa Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SACB) said: “South Africa has the largest ARV programme in the world. This has resulted in reducing child mortality by 20% and reducing the rate of new infections by 44%.
“However, the rate of new infections among young people remains alarmingly high.”
The SACBC AIDS Office is marking the anniversary with Candle Lighting, prayers for those affected by HIV and distribution of information leaflets to the public.
“To date, significant progress has been made in the AIDS response for reducing the impact of the HIV pandemic in South Africa. In 2017, of the 7.9 million people living with HIV in South Africa, 60% are on ARVs. Our next task is to find the remaining 40% through intensive testing campaigns and link them to treatment, quality care and prevention services,” Smithson said.
HIV testing has been an important component of the commemoration of world AIDS day.
“HIV testing is essential for expanding treatment and ensuring that all people living with HIV can lead healthy and productive lives,” she said.
“Access to confidential HIV testing is still an issue of concern. Many people still only get tested after becoming ill and symptomatic.”
This year’s theme is ‘Know your status’.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has said that today four in five people living with HIV in the African Region know their status.
Currently more than three in five people are accessing life-saving antiretroviral therapy.