Over 2.7 million people in South Africa are receiving antiretroviral treatment but the number of new infections remains high, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa has said.
Stigma undermines programmes
"Though we have made progress in many areas, we are still concerned about the stubbornly high numbers of new infections, the challenges we face in ensuring that those who are in treatment are supported to continue taking their medication, and that stigma continues to undermine the impact of our programmes," he told reporters at a briefing in Johannesburg on the 2016 International Aids Conference.
Much progress had been made in tackling the epidemic in Africa and across the world.
"Although we can claim many achievements, we cannot yet claim success," Ramaphosa said.
South Africa had the highest number of people living with HIV in the world and had rolled-out the world's largest treatment programme.
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The 2016 conference will be held in Durban. This is the second time South Africa hosts the conference. It was last held in the country in 2000.
Ramaphosa said the 2000 conference was pivotal in focusing the world's attention on the impact of HIV in sub-Saharan Africa, which changed the course of the epidemic on the continent.
"A decade and a half later, thanks in large to the deliberations at that conference and the unparalleled response of the global health community, we have made much progress," he said.
A better understanding
Aids 2016 chairman and president of the International Aids Society Chris Beyrer said the treatment and prevention gap still needed to be addressed.
After the 2016 conference there should be a better understanding which would help implement new science, he said.
"Advances are happening because of the scientific contributions from Africa, and particularly South Africa.
"There are many reasons for hope but there are many challenges ahead," he said.
Globally 400m more people needed to be on antiretroviral treatment.
Read: HIV spreads faster than treatment
Professor Olive Shisana, the local co-chair for Aids 2016, said civil society was key to fighting HIV/Aids, but needed more resources.
"Civil society is key to really revitalising the Aids response in the country... [But] we need more resources for civil society," she said, referring to the Treatment Action Campaign.
Earlier this month, the TAC said it might be forced to close shop if it did not receive the R20m funding needed for its 2015 operations.
A trusted partner
Shisana, who will be the first African woman to co-chair the Aids conference, said more needed to be done to help with prevention.
Currently there were 12 million people on the African continent who were still not able to access antiretrovirals.
Chair of Aids 2016's private reference group and Anglo American chief medical officer Brian Brink said the private sector could not just stand by idly.
"The private sector must be a significant contributor and a trusted partner to government and civil society in the HIV response.
Read: Preventing AIDS
"We cannot be complacent."
Brink said treatment for all was necessary, and called on the private sector to match government's financial contribution to the conference.
"We hope to stop new HIV infections, we have to get that number to zero," he said.
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Image: Stop Aids from Shutterstock