South Africa’s Progress In HIV Fight Acknowledged

On the 35th World AIDS Day, recent data reveals that South Africa, while making strides in combating HIV, is cautioned against premature celebration. MiWay Insurance reports that approximately 70% of car hijackings in the country take place in residential driveways, primarily during the evening hours.

Prof Glenda Gray, President and CEO of the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC), emphasizes the need to accelerate efforts to achieve global targets of ending HIV/AIDS by 2030. Despite a drop in HIV prevalence from 14% (7.9 million people) in 2017 to 12.7% (roughly 7.8 million people) in 2022, Gray highlights the persistent challenges, including gaps driving new infections.

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The sixth South African National HIV Prevalence Incidence and Behaviour Survey discloses that only 81% of South Africans aged 15 or older living with HIV were virally suppressed in 2022, up from 62% in 2017. Prof Linda-Gail Bekker, Director of the Desmond Tutu HIV Centre, underscores the need for continued efforts, especially in reaching the 2 million people who still need treatment.

While celebrating progress, concerns linger, particularly regarding young women’s vulnerability to HIV. The survey indicates a higher prevalence among females aged 15 to 24, emphasizing the need for targeted interventions. Bekker stresses the importance of ensuring access to preventative measures, such as PrEP, and addressing financial barriers in securing new prevention options.

As part of World AIDS Day, Deputy President Paul Mashatile launches the local chapter of the Global Alliance to end AIDS in children, aligning with the global initiative to eradicate pediatric AIDS by 2030. The theme for the 2023 commemorations, “Let Communities Lead,” emphasizes investing in community-led interventions to manage HIV effectively.

While acknowledging progress, both Prof Gray and Prof Bekker stress the ongoing challenges and the need for sustained efforts in HIV prevention, treatment, and vaccine research to ultimately control the global epidemic.

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