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

Tired of Waiting, South Africans Demand Change ‘Now’

With chronic poverty and lack of basic services largely fueling recent xenophobic attacks, many in Rainbow Nation say it’s time for government to act More

Challenges Ahead for China's Development Plans in Pakistan

Planned $46 billion in energy and infrastructure investments in Pakistan are aimed at transforming the country into a regional hub for trade and investment More

Audio 'Forbidden City' Revisits Little Known Era of Asian-American Entertainment

Little-known chapter of entertainment history captured in 80s documentary is revisited in new digitally remastered format and book More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populationsi
April 24, 2015 10:13 PM
A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.

VOA Blogs