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)

Multimedia

Audio
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

Mood Tense Ahead of Scotland Independence Vote

As race to persuade undecided voters continues, 'No' voters say they believe life in Scotland will slowly improve, 'Yes' vote not worth the risk More

South Africa’s 'Open Mosque' Admits Everyone, Including Critics

Open Mosque founder plans to welcome gay worshipers and allow women to lead prayers More

Ukrainian Activist in Despair About Future of Her Country

IrIna Dovgan, accused of being a spy and tortured by pro-Russian separatists, is appealing to UN Human Rights Council to support her country More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Wateri
X
September 17, 2014 8:44 PM
Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid