News / Africa

HIV Awareness Campaigns Paying Off

South African Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi at AIDS 2012. (De Capua)
South African Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi at AIDS 2012. (De Capua)
Joe DeCapua
A new survey shows that South African HIV/AIDS awareness campaigns have been a big success. There’s more testing, condom use and male circumcision. The findings were released Tuesday at the 19th International AIDS Conference in Washington.



South Africa has been one of the countries hardest hit by the epidemic. Some 5.2 million people were believed HIV positive in 2008. That was more than 10-and-a-half-percent of the population.

The government and its partners began launching media campaigns to raise awareness about how HIV is transmitted and how infection can be prevented. The 3rd South African National  HIV Communication Survey shows “substantial increases in behaviors that reduce the risk of infection.”
Lusanda Mahlasela, Deputy Director, Johns Hopkins Health & Education in South Africa. (De Capua)Lusanda Mahlasela, Deputy Director, Johns Hopkins Health & Education in South Africa. (De Capua)
x
Lusanda Mahlasela, Deputy Director, Johns Hopkins Health & Education in South Africa. (De Capua)
Lusanda Mahlasela, Deputy Director, Johns Hopkins Health & Education in South Africa. (De Capua)

“Our findings indicate that well over 17.4 million South Africans have been tested for HIV -- 10.6 million of these South Africans were tested in the past 12 months,” said Lusanda Mahlasela, deputy director at Johns Hopkins Health and Education in South Africa.

She described that as a huge achievement. “The more people are exposed to HIV communication programs, the more likely they are to get tested,” she said.

The survey also looked at the issue of stigma. People who were tested for HIV were asked whether they were willing to publicly disclose their HIV status.

“We were quite surprised,” she said, “that well over 86 percent of people were willing to reveal their HIV status. Of the people that revealed their HIV status, 11.2 percent said that they were HIV positive.”

Mahlasela said more than half of South African men have been circumcised, equally distributed between medical and traditional circumcision methods.

“Men, whether they are circumcised or uncircumcised, have similar levels of condom use. And again the majority of people – 85 percent – know that a man who is circumcised still needs to use condoms,” she said.

South African Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi is pleased with the survey’s findings.

He said, “The more we see these research findings, the more we have hope. It looks more likely that we can have an AIDS-free generation.”

In 1994, South Africa’s public health system distributed only six million condoms. The survey showed a dramatic increase by 2012.

“We have distributed 450 million condoms. And I’m happy that the survey found that they are indeed being used. And especially significant, yes, (laughter and applause), especially significant is the use of condoms at first sex. I think this is extremely important,” he said.

Male circumcision has been shown to reduce the risk of HIV infection. But there’s been a debate in South Africa as to whether an increase in men getting circumcised would lead to a decrease in condom use. The health minister said that’s not the case.

Dr. Motsoaledi added that men must take an education program before being circumcised.

“We just don’t line up men and start snipping, snipping, snipping, snipping. There is a clear HIV counseling and testing campaign. I’ve attended some of them. Especially in the province of KwaZulu-Natal where there were no traditional circumcisions for more than 200 years. When we approached the king of the Zulus and spoke to him, he called all the chiefs and announced to them that they are now dropping their tradition of 200 years of not circumcising. They are going to start to circumcise,” he said.

The National HIV Communication Survey was conducted across all nine South African provinces between February and May of this year. It was conducted jointly by Johns Hopkins, LoveLife and Soul City with funding from PEPFAR through USAID.

You May Like

Analyst: Joint-Arab Military Force Poses Perilous Challenge

Although international forces are desperately needed to counter the threat of the Islamic State group, analysts say conflicting alliances could escalate fighting More

Asia’s Middle Class Changes Demand for Wheat Grain Exporters

Changes in tastes and diets are boon for wheat exporters such as Australia and the United States More

S. African Comedian Taking Over Popular TV Show

Mixed-race comedian Trevor Noah, who is loved for his edgy jibes about race and language, is taking the helm from Jon Stewart at The Daily Show in US More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadistsi
X
Greg Flakus
March 30, 2015 6:48 PM
At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video With Coalition Airstrikes, Iraq Entering 'Last Page' of IS Battle

American warplanes joined Iraq's battle against the so-called 'Islamic State' in northern Iraq late Wednesday, as Iraqi ground troops launched a massive assault on Tikrit. Analysts say the offensive could take the coalition a step further towards Mosul, the largest city held by Islamic State forces. Others say it could also deepen already-dangerous sectarian tensions in the region. VOA's Heather Murdock has more from Cairo.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Hi-tech Motorbike Helmet's Goal: Improve Road Safety

In cities with heavily congested traffic, people can get around much faster on a motorcycle than in a car. But a rider who is not sure of his route may have to stop to look at the map or consult a GPS. A Russian start-up company is working to make navigation easier for motorcyclists. Designers at Moscow-based LiveMap are developing a smart helmet with a built-in navigation system, head-mounted display and voice recognition. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video DOJ: Illinois National Guard Soldier Tried to Join ISIS

U.S. federal law enforcement agents arrested two suburban Chicago men accused of trying to join ISIS overseas, while also plotting attacks in the United States. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports from the Midwest state of Illinois, one of those arrested is a soldier of the Illinois National Guard.
Video

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Traditional push-rim wheelchairs create a lot of stress for arm, shoulder and neck muscles and joints. A redesigned chair, based on readily available bicycle technology, radically increases mobility while reducing the physical effort. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More