26 January 2009

We can halve HIV infections: Hogan

Health minister Barbara Hogan is optimistic that the rate of new HIV/Aids infections can be halved within the next two years.


Health minister Barbara Hogan is optimistic that the rate of new HIV/AIDS infections can be halved within the next two years through the One Love campaign, which was launched in Orlando, Soweto, on Saturday.

The campaign seeks to educate people about having no more than one sexual partner.

Hogan said that poverty was driving many women to prostitution and unsafe sexual practices.

"We must find out what is motivating people to act this way, we need to speak to communities and get to the root of what causes this," she said.

Writing in the journal Science, Harvard researchers last year argued that male circumicision and the reduction of multiple sexual partnerships should play a greater part in prevention strategies.

Despite relatively large investments in Aids prevention efforts for some years now, including sizeable spending in some of the most heavily affected countries (such as South Africa and Botswana), it’s clear that we need to do a better job of reducing the rate of new HIV infections. We need a fairly dramatic shift in priorities, not just a minor tweaking,” said Daniel Halperin, one of the paper’s lead authors.

The most common HIV prevention strategies — condom promotion, HIV testing, treatment of other sexually transmitted infections (STIs), vaccine and microbicide research, and abstinence — are having a limited impact on the predominantly heterosexual epidemics found in Africa, the researchers said.

(Sapa/EurekAlert, January 2009)

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Dr Sindisiwe van Zyl qualified at the University of Pretoria in 2005. She is a patients' rights activist and loves using social media to teach about HIV. She is in private practice in Johannesburg.

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