South Africa commemorates World AIDS Day

What is world AIDS day?

Every year on December 1, people all across the world observe World AIDS Day. People get together from all over the world to support those who are HIV-positive and to memorialize those who have passed away from AIDS-related illnesses.

World AIDS Day brings people from all over the world together to spread awareness of HIV/AIDS and show global unity against the disease. The day offers public and private partners a chance to raise awareness of the pandemic’s current state and to support global advancements in HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment, and care. It has grown to be one of the most well-known international health days and a crucial chance to spread awareness, remember the deceased, and rejoice in successes like expanded access to treatment and prevention services.

Every World AIDS Day has a distinct subject, and this year’s topic is Equalize. Every one of us is being urged by UNAIDS to address the injustices that are impeding the fight to eradicate AIDS. World AIDS Day has raised awareness of an increasing number of issues around the world, including this year’s subject. World AIDS Day was the first ever globally recognized day for global health and was established in 1988. Every year, organizations affiliated with the UN, governments, and civil society come together to promote campaigns centered on certain HIV-related issues.

  • Awareness-raising activities take place around the globe.
  • Many people wear a red ribbon, the universal symbol of awareness of, support for, and solidarity with people living with HIV.
  • People living with HIV make their voices heard on issues important in their lives.
  • Groups of people living with HIV and other civil society organizations involved in the AIDS response mobilize in support of the communities they serve and to raise funds.
  • Events highlight the current state of the epidemic

Reminding people and governments that HIV still exists, World AIDS Day is as pertinent today as it has ever been. In order to raise knowledge of the effects of HIV on people’s lives, eradicate stigma and prejudice, and improve the quality of life for those living with HIV, there is still an urgent need for more funding for the AIDS response.

according to Center for disease control and prevention people who are unaware that they are infected with HIV account for about 40% of new HIV infections. Testing is the first step in maintaining a healthy lifestyle and preventing HIV transmission for those who are diagnosed with HIV. It is advised that pregnant women, adults, and adolescents have routine HIV testing in medical facilities. As part of standard medical treatment, the CDC advises that everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 gets tested for HIV at least once.

HIV and AIDS in South Africa

The fight against the HIV, AIDS and TB epidemics in South Africa has been unwavering, and there are significant successes to be proud of. Reviewing efforts over the past 20 years to combat the HIV and AIDS epidemic yields a complex picture. Numerous scientific developments in HIV therapy have improved our understanding of the virus. HIV infection rates are declining because more people are receiving antiretroviral therapy. Additionally, there is scientific optimism on the advantages of treatment as prevention and the advancement of a cure and vaccine.

For many people living with or affected by HIV, stigma and discrimination remain to exist despite these advancements. 2014’s World AIDS Day offers all South Africans the chance to be reminded that HIV is still a problem and that it is our collective responsibility to keep battling prejudice, stigma, and discrimination. In the fight against HIV and AIDS, South Africa has made significant progress. The National Strategic Plan on HIV, Sexually Transmitted Infections and Tuberculosis 2012–2016 was put into effect by the government in 2012.

The government’s antiviral treatment program was also expanded in 2010. In order to bring South Africa in line with World Health Organization treatment recommendations, a further expansion is planned to begin in January 2015. As part of this, the Department of Health will begin antiretroviral treatment for HIV-positive patients with a CD4 level of 500 or below as opposed to the current CD4 count of 350. Regardless of CD4 numbers, all HIV-positive pregnant women will also receive lifelong treatment. At the moment, pregnant HIV-positive women receive therapy until they finish nursing.

Despite significant progress, National health is still working to end discrimination and stigma related to HIV infection. The truth about how to protect oneself and others is still not widely known by many people. Former President Nelson Mandela said: “Many people suffering from AIDS and not killed by the disease itself are killed by the stigma surrounding everybody who has HIV and AIDS.”

Stigma and discrimination are still not addressed

However, progress has been achieved in the fight against the Aids epidemic in South Africa throughout the years. The stigmatization of HIV-positive people, however, continues to be a significant problem, according to the South African National Aids Council (SANAC).

“The stigma index survey found that external stigma is reducing however internal stigma remains high. There are still people who experience internalized stigma. This can be attributed to the lack of access to information, low knowledge levels of HIV, and a lack of a supportive environment,” said SANAC spokesperson Nelson Dlamini

Dlamini added that using various service delivery methods, the priority has been to broaden and improve treatment access for persons living with HIV throughout the nation. However, as a result, less is being done to promote psychosocial support. As a result, there is still a lot of internalized stigma, which is why these people are also known as hushed communities.

Education ‘not prioritised’

Programs for HIV/Aids education and communication are not always given top priority, according to Molefi, a spokesperson for the Department of Health. Stigma and discrimination still persist in large part because of this.“There are programmes aimed at addressing the high rates of HIV and at addressing stigma. However, we need to be more targeted. We also need to integrate services to offer more comprehensive healthcare services packages,” said Molefi.

The globe is losing lives and falling short of agreed-upon Aids targets due to stigmatization, discrimination, and criminalization of critical communities, according to a recent UNAIDS report titled Dangerous Inequalities.

“We need to implement comprehensive, integrated programmes. Women are disproportionately affected by HIV, with young and adolescent girls at risk. We need to reach girls and young women. However, we also need to reach their parents and teachers, their communities, their social networks and their sexual partners,” said Molefi.

Statista estimates that there will be 85,796 Aids-related fatalities in South Africa in 2022. Nearly 88,000 people died in the nation due to AIDS in the preceding year. “There have been many scientific advances in HIV treatment and we now have a much better understanding of the virus. More people are receiving antiretroviral treatment, which means HIV infection rates are decreasing,” according to the South African government’s information page on the observance.However, despite these advances, stigma and discrimination still persist for many people living with, or affected by, HIV.”

Signs of PrEP scale-up

Thembisa is a mathematical simulation of the HIV epidemic in South Africa that was created to provide answers to problems about HIV prevention and treatment policy. Thembisa is a model for projecting future demographics as well as a source of demographic data.In Zulu and Xhosa, the word “Thembisa” means “offer hope.” The name expresses the hope that during the next 20 years, HIV transmission in South Africa will be significantly reduced thanks to recent advancements in HIV prevention and treatment.The official UNAIDS figures for South Africa are based on data from Thembisa as of 2017. The Thembisa developers at the University of Cape Town work in partnership with UNAIDS and the South African Department of Health to produce these estimates.

Even though it comes from a very low base, the increase in PrEP use seen in 2021 is one of the most hopeful aspects of the new Thembisa findings. Pre-exposure prophylaxis, sometimes known as PrEP, is the use of antiretroviral medications to fend off HIV infection in HIV-negative people. In the public sector, PrEP is now only offered as a pill, but in the next year or two, a vaginal ring and an injection given every two months should also be accessible.

According to estimates, the prevalence of PrEP among sexually active people rose from 0.1% in 2019 to 0.3% in 2020 and 1% in 2021. In 2021, coverage among sexually active women (1.3%) was higher than it was among men (0.7%). For groups that have been targeted for PrEP for a while now, such as female sex workers (21.7%) and men who have sex with men (14%), coverage was predicted to be significantly greater. 5.1% was estimated to be the coverage rate among sexually active adolescent girls and young women, which is encouraging given the group’s consistently high rate of new infections.

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