22/10/2013 – ACDP supports efforts to encourage the nation to know their status

ACDP Parliament

Response to statement by the Minister of Health on HIV/AIDS & TB

By Cheryllyn Dudley, MP and Whip

 

ACDP supports efforts to encourage nation to know their status

· responsible citizens have a duty to know their status

· testing must become regular practice of the majority to remove concern for what people may think

· congratulates Minister and all role-players on efforts in progress made to date

 

Cheryllyn Dudley, ACDP MP and Whip

The ACDP supports efforts by the Minister and the department to encourage the nation to know their status and will be participating in the HIV Counselling and Testing Campaign initiated by the Deputy President.

I have in previous years taken the time to be tested for HIV even though I do not regard myself as being at risk. I have done this because I am convinced that it is our duty as responsible citizens to know our status and I believe that when testing becomes a regular practice of the majority of South Africa’s people we will no longer put off testing out of concern for what people may think.

The HIV/AIDS epidemic in South Africa has taken a huge toll socially and economically and drastic measures should have been taken many years ago to contain this disease which spread like wildfire over many years. The ACDP has always been concerned that government previously made HIV/AIDS a human rights issue rather than a health issue and missed opportunities to do what the Minister is attempting to do now.

The ACDP is relieved to see a decline in AIDS-related mortality and pleased to see that this has significantly impacted mortality in South African children younger than 5 years which has decreased an estimated 6% to 10% since 2006. In 2005 – 37% to 39% of child deaths were attributable to AIDS. Increased efforts and a commitment to preventing mother-to-child HIV transmission – plus expanded availability of antiretroviral therapies has resulted in substantial mortality decreases during the past 5 years.

The ACDP congratulates the Minister and all role-players on their efforts in the progress made to date.

We note however – that although the proportion of under 5 deaths due to AIDS has fallen to between 11% and 24% – South Africa is still not on track to achieve the MDG of a two-thirds reduction in under-five mortality by 2015. On the positive side – if current progress continues, the nation could meet this goal by 2020.

We have come a long way and must not lose focus now, as we still have a long way to go. At the same time this is something we can be grateful for and proud of!

Young people are particularly susceptible to HIV infections and in many instances they carry the burden of caring for family members living with HIV/AIDS. With a population of young people that is expected to double to 281 million by 2050, concerns have been raised that young people are not getting the opportunity to develop the cognitive and other skills required to successfully transition into adulthood – HIV knowledge levels among young people remain below 40%.

The UN agency tasked with controlling the virus that causes AIDS warned on Monday that people in several African countries are using fewer condoms and having sex with more than one partner, threatening efforts to fight HIV, naming Burkina Faso, Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Gabon, Guyana, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zimbabwe.

On the other hand, people working in Uganda to reduce HIV/AIDS have reported hearing 17 years olds confidently saying they want to stay virgins until they meet the right girl. They attribute this to the good work being done by teachers encouraging young people to Abstain. They say songs are taught in schools which incorporate messages about HIV/AIDS and a strong ABC message – songs of hope and enthusiasm for Uganda and their future!

 

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