Business & Finance

As the world prepares to celebrate World AIDS Day on Dec 1, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa has commended South Africans for their efforts to turn the tide on HIV/AIDS.

“As we approach World AIDS Day on Dec 1, we are inspired by the many actions taken by South Africans from all walks of life over many years to fight AIDS. Thanks to your efforts, we have the biggest HIV treatment programme in the world, with nearly 3.5 million people on life-saving anti-retrovirals (ARVs),” he said Wednesday.

On Thursday, he will address the World AIDS Day commemoration in Daveyton in Gauteng Province, along with Health Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, South African National AIDS Council (SANAC) Deputy Chairperson Steve Letsike, Gauteng Premier David Makhura and representatives of civil society.

Ramaphosa said that South Africans today were living longer and more productive lives, and fewer people were dying from AIDS and tuberculosis (TB).

“We have dramatically reduced mother-to-child transmission of HIV. This has been made possible because all of us have worked together. We have risen to the challenge. We are acting in various ways, big and small, to spread information, fight stigma and promote healthy lifestyles,” he added.

However, he warned that the fight against HIV and TB was far from over, as the rate of new HIV infections was still extremely high. “Of particular concern are the high rates of new HIV infections among adolescent girls and young women,” he said.

“As we expand our treatment programme, we need to make prevention of HIV transmission a critical and immediate priority. We have no choice. We must act now to stop the spread of HIV and TB. We must preach and practice responsible sexual behaviour. This means using a condom during every sexual act, it means not having multiple sexual partners, it means getting tested regularly.”

The Deputy President said the country would not overcome these diseases unless people worked harder to overcome the economic and social problems which fueled their spread.

“We must ensure that all South Africans have shelter, food, water and decent sanitation. We must strive for gender equality in the home, in the community and in the workplace. We must stop violence against women and children,” he said.

“We must create a society in which people are able to take responsibility for their own wellbeing and the wellbeing of those around them. We call on all South Africans to play their part today and every day. The future of our country depends on you.”