Ramaphosa: We need to work harder on HIV prevention among key populations

2020 is a milestone year towards ending AIDS epidemics and 81% of people living with HIV know their status.

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.

Moeti said globally, there are 38 million people living with HIV and 67 percent of them are living in the WHO African Region.

This year's theme is "Global solidarity, shared responsibility", which effectively captures, says Dr Adams, "the phenomenal efforts of our public health champions in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic while working to maintain the gains made in the HIV response".

The Executive Director of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, Winnie Byanyinma, has said over 12 million infected persons are waiting to access to HIV treatment while 1.7 million people became infected with HIV in 2019 because they could not access essential services.

Zimbabwe has made commendable progress in reversing the course of the AIDS pandemic through prevention of new HIV infections and the provision of treatment to those infected despite economic challenges being faced by the country.

"Despite these challenges, significant progress is happening in African countries. For those on antiretroviral therapy, 90,3 percent of them have achieved viral load suppression compared to 85,3 percent in the previous survey", he said. "Eighty-five percent of pregnant and breastfeeding women living with HIV are on ART, which protects their health and prevents HIV transmission to their newborn infants".

She, however, urged communities, especially people living with HIV, to be proactive in their self-care and in understanding how to prevent the spread of the infections.

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This World Aids Day, Apple has announced an expanded partnership with (RED) to combat HIV/AIDS in Africa while simultaneously protecting those communities from COVID-19.

The President said it was pleasing that new infections had declined from 47 000 in 2016 to 40 000 in 2019 on account of the comprehensive combination of high impact HIV prevention interventions, which include HIV testing services, prevention of mother to child infection, condom promotion and distribution, treatment as prevention, behaviour change and voluntary medical male circumcision.

"The pandemic is making it even more challenging for countries to provide these services, particularly in areas affected by conflicts, disasters, outbreaks and rapid population growth".

Continuing, Byanyinma stated, "Today, we need that strength more than ever to beat the colliding epidemics of HIV and COVID-19".

Over the last decade we made progress in reducing the number of new HIV infections in the population by almost 60%.

"As the first COVID-19 vaccine candidates have proven effective and safe, there is hope that more will follow, but there are serious threats to ensuring equitable access".

"In Cote d'Ivoire, Nigeria and Senegal, women living with HIV are serving as community pharmacists, visiting hard to reach semi-urban and rural areas to facilitate the home delivery of HIV treatment and medicines for other diseases".

Commemorated every year on 1 December, World AIDS Day brings together people from around the world to raise awareness, remember those who have passed on, and celebrate victories, such as increased access to treatment and prevention services.

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