Stigma and discrimination are contributing factors to South Africa not reaching its desired targets of reducing the rate of new HIV infections, Deputy President David Mabuza has said.
“Whereas our comprehensive HIV response is being hailed as a success, what is clear is that we are not doing well in preventing new infections of the virus,” Mabuza said at the closing plenary of the 9th South African AIDS Conference.
Mabuza said it is estimated that in South Africa there are around 250,000 new infections annually, while the country’s target is to reduce this to below 100,000 new infections by December 2020.
“This gap is big and it must be closed,” Mabuza said.
The deputy president said the contributing factor in not reaching the country’s desired target remained the challenge of stigma and discrimination.
“It is a scientific fact that HIV as well as TB, does not discriminate by age, race, gender, class and socio-economic status,” Mabuza said, urging South Africans to not discriminate those living with the virus.
The deputy president said the Thembisa modelling done by the University of Cape Town suggests that there are approximately 7.4 million South Africans who are HIV positive and that there are currently 4.9 million people living with HIV that are on treatment.
“We need to initiate another two million on ARVs by December 2020,” Mabuza said.