This World AIDS Day, Brand South Africa encourages all citizens to play their part and get tested for HIV and know their status. Commemorated on 1st December each year, World AIDS Day presents an opportunity for humanity worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, to show support for people living with HIV, and to commemorate those who have died from an AIDS-related illness.
UNAIDS reports that South Africa has the biggest and most high-profile HIV epidemic in the world, with an estimated 7.2 million people living with HIV in 2017, and that the country accounts for a third of all new HIV infections in Southern Africa.
Conversely, the country has also made significant strides in its mission to tackle the epidemic. According to UNAIDS data released in 2018 the country has made vast developments in getting people to test for HIV in recent years and is now almost meeting the first of the 90-90-90 targets, with 86% of people aware of their status. The country is also reported to have the largest ART programme in the world, which has undergone even more expansion in recent years with the implementation of ‘test and treat’ guidelines.
“In 2017, there were 270,000 new HIV infections and 110,000 South Africans died from AIDS-related illnesses. South Africa has the largest antiretroviral treatment (ART) programme in the world and these efforts have been largely financed from its own domestic resources. In 2015, the country was investing more than $1.34 billion annually to run its HIV programmes. The success of this ART programme is evident in the increases in national life expectancy, rising from 61.2 years in 2010 to 67.7 years in 2015,” notes the UNAIDS report. South Africa was also the first country in Sub-Saharan Africa to fully approve PrEP, which is now being made available to people at high risk of infection.
GM for Communications at Brand South Africa Ms Thoko Modise said: “Although the country has achieved momentous milestones, we still have a long way to go. We need to strengthen out behavioural strategies – which involves applying a wide range of strategic interventions and conducting actions that modify negative behaviours and encourage positive behaviours through educational or motivational techniques.
“In addition, reductions in HIV transmission need widespread and sustained efforts by all stakeholders including government, business and civil society. We collectively need to reinforce the mix of communication channels to disseminate messages to motivate people to engage in a range of options to reduce risk.”
Founded in 1988, World AIDS Day was the first ever global health day to show solidarity with the millions of people living with HIV worldwide. South African citizens are called upon to show their support by wearing a red ribbon – which is the universal symbol of awareness and support for people living with HIV.
“Play your part, get tested for HIV and know your status. The only way to know your HIV status for sure is to get tested. A person who is HIV positive may look and feel perfectly well, and be unaware that they are infected,” adds Modise.
Brand South Africa, in collaboration with Freedom Park and its partners; Love Life, South African National AIDS Council and Africa Music Central, will host the World AIDS Day concert at Freedom Park. Activities will include a ZERO HIV/AIDS Park where HIV/AIDS prevention success stories, blood donation, voluntary testing and counseling, sharing information, updates on the latest discoveries in the treatment of HIV/AIDS, HIV/AIDS Dialogues which will provide a safe space to share ideas on combating AIDS. Brand South Africa will be promoting a pledge for all citizens to get involved in making decisions that will reduce new infections.