There was a call for the upcoming International Aids Conference that will take place in Durban to be used as a platform to further strengthen efforts made towards fighting HIV and Aids in the country.
The KwaZulu-Natal Premier, Senzo Mchunu, points out that while existing efforts are bearing fruits, more still needs to be done to win the fight against the widespread disease.
The premier was addressing the business sector in Durban Thursday night. The provincial government has embarked on a campaign to mobilize various sectors in preparation for the 21st International Aids Conference in July, 2016.
More than 18,000 delegates from all over the globe are expected to land in Durban in July for the 21st International Aids Conference. This will mark the second time South Africa is hosting the conference.
In the year 2000, there was a huge problem over lack of access to the life-saving anti-retro-viral drugs. Sixteen years on, the situation is different. Today, more than three million people are on ARV treatment in the country and over a million of them are in KwaZulu-Natal province.
Health MEC Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo says, “We are now confidently saying that in this country there are people who actually would have died but now, not only are they alive, they have also extended their life expectancy through the interventions that we have put in place. We hope that through the contribution of business people we can do that even more.”
KwaZulu-Natal Premier, Senzo Mchunu, says the Global Fund has pledged about R440 million to the province’s HIV/Aids programmes over the next three years, starting in April this year. He says the province has progressed in the fight against HIV and Aids.
The dangerous mother-to-child transmissions have declined from 22% in 2008 to 1.3 percent in 2014. Mchunu says these breakthroughs are an indication that all the efforts being made to fight the disease are bearing good fruits.
“We are very proud of the reduction that we have achieved with regards to the transmission of HIV and Aids from mother to child. It now stands at 1.3 %, making the goal of achieving a HIV and Aids-free generation by 2030 a reality.”
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In as much as there is a bright light at the end of the tunnel, Mchunu says more efforts are still needed to win the battle against HIV and Aids.
Dr Memory Muturiki from the International Aids Society – the body that hosts the Aids conference is optimistic that this year’s conference will change the course of the epidemic, the same way the one held in the year 2000 did.
She says, “the conference itself became a platform for anger and activism. Challenges of Aids in Africa in general were brought to the eyes of the whole world and we had responses from that conference. So we know that this conference this year will be the second milestone in the history of the epidemic. We want to change the course of the epidemic through this conference.”
The Aids conference will last from 18th to 22nd July 2016.