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World AIDS Day - Communities essential in combating UNAIDS 90-90-90 targets

 

 

 


Posted: 02 December 2019

Every year 01 December we celebrate World AIDS Day as an opportunity for the community to unite in the fight against HIV, show support for people living with HIV and remember those who have died due to the virus.

This year’s theme: “Communities make the Difference: Cheka Impilo” is to ensure strong community participation in response to controlling HIV, TB and STI epidemic to meet the UNAIDS 90-90-90 targets. The theme further aims to intensify testing and screening services for both communicable and non-communicable diseases with the view to linking people to treatment.

Communities have a leadership role as they advocate to ensure that the response remains relevant and grounded while keeping people at the centre of leaving no one behind. When we speak of ‘communities,’ we refer to peer educators, networks of people living with or affected by HIV, door-to-door service providers, and civil society organisations as well as grass-roots activists.

Correspondingly, the National Strategic Plan for HIV, TB and STIs (NSP) 2017 – 2022 places emphasis on the multi-sectoral approach to HIV and TB which encourages collaboration between all sectors.

Furthermore, the World AIDS Day theme is also in line with the 2019 UNAIDS Global Report ‘Communities at the Centre of the AIDS Response’ which was launched on 16 July 2019 in South Africa.  This is due to the UNAIDS being encouraged by a town called eShowe, in KwaZulu-Natal where despite high HIV prevalence, the community of eShowe reached and surpassed the 90-90-90 targets set for 2020.

In the past 20 years as a nation, South Africa painted a mixed picture in regards to efforts of combating the HIV/AIDS epidemic. There have been many scientific advances in the HIV treatment along with awareness. Moreover, there is an increased number of people receiving antiretroviral treatment resulting in HIV infections decreasing.

In regards to the UNAIDS 90-90-90 targets, South Africa is close to reaching the first 90 which considers 90% of people with the virus who now their status.

Consequently, the country is halfway through the term of the NSP 2017-2022 and in the process of the mid-term assessment of the impact of the implementation of the strategy.

However, South Africa still has the largest epidemic in the world. Approximately, 7.5 million people in the country are living with HIV and about 5.1 million are on antiretroviral treatment. Whereas HIV infections are at 230 100 per annum, the country has to reduce infections to 88 00 by 2020.

These challenges can be linked to stigma and discrimination persisting for many people living with, or affected by HIV. Quoting former President Nelson Mandela, “many people suffering from AIDS are not killed by the disease but by the stigma surrounding everybody who has the virus.”

The campaign, “Communities make the Difference: Cheka Impilo” therefore, promotes leadership and shared accountability as a core goal of the NSP 2017 – 2022 including decentralised leadership as well as increased and transparency and dialogue on performance.

World AIDS Day is important as it reminds the public that HIV has not gone away and that collectively there is a need to increase awareness, fight prejudice and improve education to maintain and achieve the aims and objectives of the country as set out in the National Strategic Plan on HIV, TB and STIs.

Remember:

  • Everyone should help raise awareness in your community, workplace, and school to help fight HIV
  • Healthy life begins with you knowing your HIV status
  • Healthy life begins with taking treatment once you have tested positive
  • Healthy life begins with practising safer sex and using protection
  • HIV is not a death sentence but a chronic condition managed through ARVs
  • All people living with HIV are eligible to be initiated on ART regardless of age, gender, and CD4 count
  • Communities play a key role in the fight against
 
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