World Aids Day should be about collective and empowerment!

The war rages on. Dep Pres Cyril Ramaphosa says World Aids Day should be about collective and empowerment.

The respected world agency says: “New HIV infections among adolescents are projected to rise from 250‚000 in 2015 to nearly 400‚000 annually by 2030 if progress in reaching adolescents stalls.”

“Every two minutes‚ another adolescent – most likely a girl – will be infected with HIV. If we want to end Aids‚ we need to recapture the urgency this issue deserves – and redouble our efforts to reach every child and every adolescent‚” says Unicef executive director Anthony Lake.

Aids is a leading cause of death among adolescents‚ claiming the lives of 41‚000 adolescents aged 10-19 in 2015‚ according to the 7th Stocktaking Report on Children and Aids: For Every Child: End Aids.

Globally‚ there were nearly two million adolescents aged 10 -19 living with HIV in 2015. In sub-Saharan Africa‚ the region most impacted by HIV‚ girls accounted for three out of every four new infections among adolescents aged 15-19.

“Aids may not be the death sentence it was just a decade ago‚ but it’s certainly still a threat to millions of adolescents around the world‚ and will pose a growing threat if we don’t act now‚” says David Morley‚ Unicef Canada President and CEO. “Despite our progress‚ we can’t become complacent. We must maintain the momentum‚ commitment and funding to protect‚ diagnose and treat the world’s children and youth and end the Aids epidemic once and for all.”

The report proposes strategies for accelerating progress in preventing HIV among adolescents and treating those who are already infected. These include:

-Investing in innovation including in locally grown solutions.

-Strengthening data collection.

-Ending gender discrimination including gender-based violence and countering stigma.

-Prioritizing efforts to address adolescents’ vulnerabilities by providing a combination of prevention efforts including pre-exposure prophylaxis‚ cash transfers and comprehensive sexuality education.

Unicef noted that “remarkable progress” has been made in preventing mother-to-child transmission of HIV. Globally‚ 1.6 million new infections among children were averted between 2000 and 2015‚ it says.

However‚ 1.1 million children‚ adolescents and women were newly infected in 2015 — and treatment comes too late.

Children aged 0–4 living with HIV face the highest risk of Aids-related deaths‚ compared with all other age groups‚ and they are often diagnosed and treated too late.

“Only half of the babies born to HIV-positive mothers receive an HIV test in their first two months‚ and the average age that treatment begins among children with vertically acquired HIV in sub-Saharan Africa is nearly four years old.”

Meanwhile, the International Aids Awareness Day was celebrated at Sinaba Stadium, Daveyton on the East Rand on Wednesday (December 1), reports Sydney Morweng, news editor.

Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa gave a key note address to thousands of community members under the soaring heat.

He said:” World AIDS Day must be about personal responsibility, collective responsibility, empowerment and action.

It is in our hands to end HIV and TB.

Singayinqoba ingculazi uma siziphatha kahle, sizivikela, sicabangela ikusasa.

Through our behaviour, through our relationships, through our attitudes, we have the means to end HIV and TB.

We know that many of our people – particularly young women – find themselves in desperate circumstances.”

But they do not need to become victims of those circumstances.

Young people should not feel alone, says Dep President.

He continued: ”We know that last year, an estimated 266,000 South Africans became infected with HIV.

And each week, there are an estimated 2,000 new HIV infections in adolescent girls and young women aged 15 to 24 years.”

Ramaphosa went further to state that they find hope in the fact that over 800 million male condoms and over 27 million female condoms were distributed to South Africans last year.

“We find hope in the fact that 35 million HIV tests were done over the last five years. It is with this in mind that we launched the ‘She Conquers’ campaign to address the high rate of HIV infection among adolescent girls and young women,” he said.

The popular Max Condoms, distributed by Government can be found at taxi ranks, public toilets and even taverns, will help prevent HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.

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