Department of Health 16/07/2019 - 09:09
Addressing delegates at the 9th Annual Aids Conference, Deputy President, David Mabuza highlighted that there is a rise of new HIV infections in the country particularly amongst young women.
As the nation's comprehensive HIV response is being hailed as a success, it is estimated that there are around 250 000 new infections annually. A challenge he called to be promptly dealt with ahead of envisaged national target of below 100 000 new infections by December 2020.
"Ladies and Gentlemen, we are cognisant of the multiple biological and societal factors that play a role in the transmission of the virus. Our learners, especially adolescent girls and young women will be getting focused attention from our government," said the Deputy President.
"This entails a holistic approach to sexuality, starting from age appropriate life skills education in schools, so that young people understand their own bodies. We are approaching this work with utmost care and caution, so that we do not prematurely sexualize our children," he stated.
He also noted that the decrease in age of young boys' first sexual encounter as another challenge as it exposes them to HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.
"We will continue to acknowledge the advice from experts and other stakeholders in these regards and will focus on the delivery and implementation of programmes at the local and district levels. And will continue to strengthen our Provincial and District AIDS Councils in our unending efforts," assured the Deputy President.
As the chairman of SANAC the Deputy President was handed The eThekwini Declaration - the culmination of decisions taken at the 2019 conference, encompassed a "radical call to action" to reinvigorate and revolutionise the response to HIV.
The declaration called for a need to revive the sense of urgency, political will, compassion, transparency and accountability towards reinvigoration of the HIV response. It also prioritised a commitment to support unprecedented innovations, technologies and strategies to control the epidemic.
Other obligations included investment in research, developing programmes to encourage the active participation of youth in the HIV response and addressing inequalities - particularly gender inequalities, and empowering young women and girls.
In his closing remarks, Deputy President David Mabuza applauded the conference for providing an opportunity for all voices to be heard, especially those in frontline service however he advised against being a nation that listens only through conferences but must continuously be engaged in deliberative policy processes to shape and improve on interventions as government, together with all social partners.
"On behalf of government and SANAC, we commit to take forward the recommendations that came from this conference so that when we meet in two years' time, we can see a quantum leap in our country's response to HIV and AIDS, including meeting the targets we set for December 2020!" concluded Deputy President Mabuza.
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