World Aids Day commemorated in eThekwini

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KZN MEC for cooperative governance and traditional affairs (Cogta) Nomusa Dube-Ncube and the mayor of eThekwini Zandile Gumede will join thousands of residents to commemorate World Aids Day at the Mpumalanga Stadium in eThekwini today.

“The event will take place against the backdrop of the significant progress made collectively by the provincial government and individual municipalities in combating the pandemic which continues to wreak havoc in communities,” department spokesperson Lennox Mabaso said.

The commemoration comes amid a report by the World Health Organisation (WHO) that the lack of HIV diagnosis was a major obstacle to implementing the WHO’s recommendation of putting everyone who tests HIV-positive on treatment.

The health body found that more than 18 million people who are HIV-positive are on ARV treatment while a similar number are still unable to access treatment – the majority of whom are unaware of their status.

WHO released new guidelines of HIV self-testing ahead of the World Aids in a bid to improve access to and HIV diagnosis.

Dr Margaret Chan, WHO directorgeneral, said: “Millions of people with HIV are still missing out on life-saving treatment, which can also prevent HIV transmission to others.

“HIV self-testing should open the door for many more people to know their HIV status and find out how to get treatment and access prevention services.”

The WHO said the proportion of people who learned their status increased from 12% to 60% between 2005 and 2015 leading to 80% of all people diagnosed receiving treatment.

The organisation has raised concerns over the low coverage of HIV testing among various populations including men, adolescent girls and young women in East and southern Africa, men who have sex with men, sex workers, transgender people and prisoners, among others.

Doctors without Borders (MSF) has welcomed the new guidelines on selftesting. “The MSF experience has shown that different testing methods reach different demographic groups and new methods are likely to be particularly important in reaching those who remain untested.

“Long waiting times at health facilities, or being asked to repeat counselling sessions at each test may deter people from accessing conventional HIV testing services,” the WHO said.

“Patients and communities should have the option to decide when to test for HIV and choose if they want to do it in privacy.”

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