KwaZulu-Natal Health MEC Sibongiseni Dhlomo on Thursday reminded thousands of people that HIV/Aids was no longer a death sentence.
Large percentage of global burden
Dhlomo who was speaking at a World Aids Day event in Newcastle told the gathering that South Africa was home to the largest concentration of people living with HIV in the whole world.
There are 7 104 796 million people, aged between 14 and 49, living with HIV.
This represented 19% of the global HIV burden, Dhlomo said.
Of this, 1 622 870 million people are found in KwaZulu Natal.
Dhlomo used the platform to highlight the dangers of “blessers” to adolescent girls and young women.
Voluntary counselling and testing
“We also utilise this day to inform the public that TB is curable even if you are HIV positive. We need the support of all citizens as we have embarked on a deliberate effort to scale up HIV testing services and strengthen quality at all health facilities in line with the ambitious targets of HIV elimination by 2030.”
He said prevention of mother to child transmission [PMTCT] in the province had been reduced to 1.2% while the number was 1,5% countrywide.
The number of circumcisions had increased.
“We have circumcised more than 750 000 men and boys without a single loss of life since 2010.”
Dhlomo said more citizens were coming forward for voluntary counselling and testing.
“To date, more than 1,3 million people have been initiated on lifelong antiretroviral therapy in this province alone whilst the national tally is 3,4 million on treatment. This in its own means that our people are now healthier and living longer.”
He said in Amajuba, the department was not reaching its target in terms of male circumcision.
“Let us remember that to be HIV positive in recent past was taken as a death sentence… it is increasingly seen and accepted as a treatable and manageable condition,” said Dhlomo.