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)
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

Ukraine: Mysterious 'Roaming Tank' Reportedly Takes Aim at Smugglers

Ukraine's TV, print media, Facebook abuzz with reports a 'roaming tank' is on the loose, destroying vehicles of those involved in smuggling More

US Wildlife Service Begins Probe of Killing of Cecil the Lion

Minnesota man accused of killing beast is in hiding, has been asked to contact US officials; White House to review extradition petition More

Video Kerry Five-Nation Tour to Cover Security, Iran Nuclear Deal

Secretary of state will visit Egypt, Qatar, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam to discuss security issues, Iran nuclear deal, Trans-Pacific Partnership More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’i
July 29, 2015 9:34 PM
Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.

VOA Blogs