South Africa is making huge advances in the fight against the HIV/Aids epidemic, according to UNAIDS, which launched its global Aids update report in Eshowe, KwaZulu-Natal, on Tuesday. The Times quotes the global body as saying: “South Africa, for example, has made huge advances and has successfully reduced new HIV infections by more than 40% and Aids-related deaths by around 40% since 2010.” But it warned that there was still a long way to go in eastern and southern Africa, the region most affected by HIV.
The report, launched by UNAIDS executive director Gunilla Carlson together with deputy president David Mabuza, contains details of local community programmes that can quicken the pace of the response to HIV.
The Times reports that Eshowe was chosen for the launch of the global report because it surpassed UNAIDS targets before the 2020 global deadline thanks to a community project run by Medicines Sans Frontières (MSF).
In 2014, UNAIDS launched the 90–90–90 targets with the aim to diagnose 90% of all HIV-positive persons, provide antiretroviral therapy for 90% of those diagnosed, and achieve viral suppression for 90% of those treated by 2020.
The Times reports that Mabuza told the large gathering at the King Dinuzulu stadium: “As South Africa, we take the fight against HIV very serious as our country has the world’s largest epidemic, with an estimated 20% of people living with HIV globally resident in SA, therefore we have a challenge that we must confront.” Mabuza said statistics showed that poor people had the highest risk.
“We acknowledge that unless we deal decisively with the challenges of unemployment, poverty, gender-based violence, substance abuse and poor housing, among others, we will not be able to heal our society.
“The success of the work done by MSF here at Eshowe reminds us of the social capital vested in our communities. This social capital needs to be harnessed to help guide the response,” Mabuza said. He praised the people of Eshowe for opening their homes to the doctors for treatment and testing.
According to The Times, the UNAIDS report found that there were “worrying increases” in new infections in eastern Europe and Central Asia (29%), in the Middle East and North Africa (10%).