S. African gov't vows to achieve AIDS-free generation

December 1, 2015 11:18 am 

CAPE TOWN, Nov. 29 — The realization of an AIDS-free generation is possible for South Africa because of the many actions taken by South Africans from all walks of life over so many years, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Sunday.

"We have acted in various ways, big and small, to spread information, to fight stigma and to promote healthy lifestyles," Ramaphosa said in a statement to mark the World AIDS Day, which falls on December 1.

"As we commemorate World AIDS Day, let us work harder and with determination to secure an AIDS-free South Africa and indeed an AIDS-free world," he said.

The country has the biggest HIV treatment program in the world, with more than three million HIV patients on life-saving antiretrovirals, meaning treatment coverage for nearly 50 percent of the infected.

People are living longer and fewer people are dying of AIDS and TB. Life expectancy has increased from 53 years in 2006 to over 62 years in 2013. The country has also reduced mother-to-child transmission further.

Yet the country still faces many challenges. The number of new HIV infections is still extremely high, particularly among young women and girls.

"We need to spread the word about prevention, encouraging all sexually-active South Africans to use condoms. We need to encourage people to test for HIV and TB. We need to ensure that all those who need treatment, receive treatment and that they remain on treatment," he said.

He urged South Africans to protect themselves and those who are nearest to them.

"We must protect the vulnerable. We must combat stigma and create an environment in which all can feel safe and comfortable to test and be treated. The end of HIV as a public health threat is in sight," Ramaphosa said.

South Africa has an estimated 6.4 million people living with HIV/AIDS, one of the countries with highest prevalence in the world. (PNA/Xinhua)

JMC/SSC

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