The end of Aids is not as near as we would like and efforts to fight prejudice, stigma and discrimination must be redoubled, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Monday.
"Like racism, sexism, homophobia and other forms of intolerance, the
stigmatisation of HIV is driven by ignorance and fear," Ramaphosa said in a speech prepared for delivery at a World Aids Day event in Welkom, in the Free State.
Despite the decline in the incidence of HIV there was a significant number of new infections every day.
A quarter of these were in women between the ages of 15 and 24.Ramaphosa said more needed to be done to promote prevention, as it was within the power of the individual.
Read: Aids campaigners say pandemic has reached tipping point
Efforts to fight against prejudice, stigma and discrimination needed to be redoubled.
"This can have a devastating effect on the lives of people living
with HIV and on those closest to them," he said in a speech prepared for
delivery at a World Aids Day event in Welkom, in the Free State.
"It also undermines our efforts to tackle the epidemic."It
was because of this that people were reluctant to be tested and to
disclose their status to access treatment, care and support.
Read: HIV and the immune system
"Everyone, especially young people, should use condoms consistently, stick to one sexual partner and delay the age at which they first have sex," he said.
"All leaders whether in government, the religious sector, traditional leadership or business - need to speak about safer sex practices."
Ramaphosa said government was concerned about the number of people who did not know their HIV status.
Referring to a recent survey, he said about two million South Africans were living with HIV but did not know their status, which meant they were not getting the medical help they needed or protecting their partners.
"We must ensure that every South African tests for HIV and is screened for TB [Tuberculosis] annually."
"Despite the progress that we have made in the past five years, the end of Aids is not as near as we would like," Ramaphosa said.
Read: Tutu: Aids fight not over yet
At the International Aids Conference in Australia earlier this year a global target was announced.
These were the 90, 90, 90 targets.
This meant the country needed to test 90 percent of people for HIV, put 90 percent of those on treatment and ensure 90 percent of those on treatment were virally suppressed by 2030, he said.
Reaching this target was affordable over the mid-term.
However, a major barrier to achieving these targets was the stigma which still existed in the country.
"It is irrational. It is hurtful. It is unacceptable," Ramaphosa said.
"While HIV has had an unprecedented impact on global health, it is like any other disease. There should be no shame and no blame."
For more information on HIV/AIDS, visit Health24's HIV/AIDS Centre
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Image: A digital illustration of being stigmatised from Shutterstock