Deputy President David Mabuza on Tuesday called on South Africans to look to the area of Eshowe in KwaZulu-Natal and replicate its achievements in the battle against HIV and AIDS.
Mabuza made the comments at the launch of the UNAIDS Global Report for 2019 at the King Dinuzulu Township in Eshowe.
He was joined by the acting executive director of UNAIDS, Gunilla Carlson, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize, KZN Premier Sihle Zikalala, and others.
Mabuza said it was significant that the report was released in Eshowe as the community had exceeded the UN’s global target of 90-90-90.
The target calls for 90% of people living with HIV to know their status, 90% of those diagnosed to be on treatment, and 90% of those receiving treatment to have viral suppression by 2020.
The community in Eshowe reached targets of 90-94-95 this year, which was announced at the South African AIDS conference in June.
“Let us replicate this great example throughout our country, as it represents the best practice model on the fight against HIV and AIDS,” said Mabuza.
South Africa was chosen out of 193 United Nations member states to host the release of the report.
Mabuza officiated over the release as he is the chairperson of the South African National AIDS Council, a position held by the country’s deputy president.
South Africa bears the brunt of the AIDS epidemic, with an estimated 20% of citizens living with the disease.
At the national AIDS conference, the country launched its human rights plan, which mapped a path to address human rights violations for those infected and affected with HIV and TB, and vulnerable and marginalised populations.
Mabuza said on Tuesday that the plan aimed to eradicate the stigma and discrimination associated with HIV and TB “and to call out the prejudice that has fuelled it”.
“Stigma and discrimination have been shown to be the most potent factors in fuelling the spread of the epidemic and causing premature deaths for those infected.”
The UNAIDS 2019 report found that “the pace of progress in reducing new HIV infections, increasing access to treatment and ending AIDS-related deaths is slowing down”.
According to the report, “around 1.7 million people became newly infected with HIV in 2018, a 16% decline since 2010, driven mostly by steady progress across most of eastern and southern Africa”.
South Africa had successfully reduced new HIV infections by more than 40% and AIDS-related deaths by around 40% since 2010, according to the report.
“However, there is still a long way to go in eastern and southern Africa, the region most affected by HIV, and there have been worrying increases in new HIV infections in eastern Europe and central Asia (29%), in the Middle East and North Africa (10%) and in Latin America (7%).”
– African News Agency