In his weekly newsletter on the eve of World Aids Day, the president said the country still had far more to do in the fight against HIV and Aids.
FILE: President Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: @PresidencyZA/Twitter
JOHANNESBURG – President Cyril Ramaphosa on Monday said that more work needed to be done to prevent HIV among sex workers and people who inject drugs.
“We need to work harder on HIV prevention among key populations, including sex workers, men who have sex with men, and people who inject drugs. We must end the stigma and discrimination towards these populations. We cannot hope to end HIV if we ignore the needs, concerns and rights of any part of our population,” Ramaphosa said.
South Africa has the largest number of people living with HIV in the world.
“It is encouraging, however, that over the last decade we made progress in reducing the number of new HIV infections in the population by nearly 60%,” the president said.
“It is also encouraging that HIV infections in adolescent girls and young women have significantly declined in the last decade. This is a crucial group because they are much more likely to be at risk of getting HIV.”
Ramaphosa said that the fight to end HIV and Aids will only materialise through the empowerment of young people, women, and people at risk.
“Our treatment programme has contributed to a reduction in the number of deaths due to Aids by 60%. There has been a greater reduction in HIV-related deaths among young people.
“It was possible to reduce the number of deaths because we, together with our partners, have rolled out an extensive antiretroviral programme reaching millions of people living with the disease,” he said.
One of government’s central tasks is to empower adolescent girls and young women educationally, economically, and socially.
Ramaphosa said that people should also have better access to testing, treatment, and other health services.
The president acknowledged that the country had endured a lot and made great progress in the fight against HIV and Aids.
He said now it’s time to intensify efforts to confront and overcome both devastating pandemics HIV and Aids and COVID-19.