News / Africa

South Africa Reports Progress in Fighting HIV/AIDs

A giant condom inflates over the exhibition stands at Nasrec Exhibition Center, Johannesburg, South Africa, August 2002. (AP Photo/Obed Zilwa)
A giant condom inflates over the exhibition stands at Nasrec Exhibition Center, Johannesburg, South Africa, August 2002. (AP Photo/Obed Zilwa)
South Africa has made significant gains in the past decade in the fight against HIV/ AIDS. While it still has the largest number of people living with the virus, the country has seen a significant drop in new infections and a decline in the number of HIV/AIDS related deaths.  

Sakhiwo Hobo picks up his medicine from the counter and walks away. It only takes him an hour to see a doctor and get his treatment renewed at the Themba Lethu Clinic in Johannesburg, one of the biggest HIV/AIDS centers in South Africa.  

Hobo discovered four years ago that he was HIV positive.

"The first thing is shock. Fear of death, even though you're not dying at the moment, but it always is there," he said, explaining what he thought about when he found out. "So it's shock, and fear, and everything. But when you start learning about it, people start taking you through for counseling, then you know what you're dealing with."

Stigma remains

Hobo is not an isolated case. And although Hobo was diagnosed early, there is still a stigma in South Africa regarding HIV/AIDS, and this sometimes prevents people from coming early to test, says medical manager Itumeleng Mottoung.

"I think the biggest problem is stigma. Firstly people don't want to test. And once they test, they actually wish the disease away instead of taking the necessary steps of maybe following up to see if they are qualified for treatment," said Mottoung. "So basically it is a problem of stigma."

So to tackle that, the government launched HIV counselling and testing campaigns in public health facilities. In less than two years, some 20 million people have been tested.

Joe Maila, spokeperson for the Ministry of Health, explains the importance of people knowing their status.

"We've realized there is more to be done with people not knowing their status," he said. "Because we think that once you know your status, you'll be able to take extra precautionary measures to make sure that if you do not have HIV at that time, you do not have it. And then if you do have it, then you'll be able to protect people around you."

Prevention

Protecting people around you applys strongly in the case of pregnant women. In 2005, the rate at which HIV positive mothers transmitted the virus to their baby was of 8.5 percent. Today, it has decreased by threefold, down to 2.7 percent according to the Actuarial Society of South Africa.

This is also due to implementation by the government of wide-scale distribution of antiretroviral drugs, also known as ARV.  The goverment says there are nearly two million people taking ARV in South Africa, 10 times more than in in 2005.

It seems a long way from the days when former president Thabo Mbeki was promoting a treatment of beetroot and garlic, or when current president Jacob Zuma said he would take a shower to get rid of the disease. Before them, former president Nelson Mandela himself was slow to acklowledge the scale of HIV/AIDS in the country. South Africa was lambasted by the international community for its lack of action but now seems determined to seriously tackle HIV.

Challenges

But the South African government's Joe Maila says there are still challenges, especially when it comes to young people and prevention.

"I think we need just to make sure that our young people also take the message seriously. The message of prevention is very important," explained Maila. "Prevention is better than cure. We continue to tell our people that HIV and AIDS do not have a cure, and therefore the best cure is to prevent that from happening."

The struggle is far from being over.   Unsafe sex continues to take place.  The Mail and Guardian newspaper reports as of 2009, there were still, on average, 935 new HIV infections in South Africa every day and the prevalence of HIV among pregnant women at that time remained at 30 percent.

You May Like

Report: $60 Billion Leaves Africa Illegally Each Year

Report by joint UN and African Union panel says African countries need to take concrete measures to stop illegal money flow from continent each year More

Video Spy Murder Probe Likely to Further Strain British-Russian Relations

Some analysts say Russian Tu-95 bombers were flying near British airspace to warn Britain about an inquest into a murdered Russian spy More

Mugabe Defends Image Amid Controversy at Close of AU Summit

He rejects concerns about how the West might perceive his leadership, saying he's focused on African development More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Spy Murder Probe Likely to Further Strain British-Russian Relationsi
X
Henry Ridgwell
January 31, 2015 10:50 PM
Relations between Russia and the West are set to become even more strained amid an inquiry in London into the murder of a former Russian spy. Lawyers at the inquiry accuse Russian President Vladimir Putin of directing a "mafia state." Meanwhile, Royal Air Force fighters intercepted Russian bombers close to British airspace this week, prompting authorities to summon Moscow’s ambassador. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Spy Murder Probe Likely to Further Strain British-Russian Relations

Relations between Russia and the West are set to become even more strained amid an inquiry in London into the murder of a former Russian spy. Lawyers at the inquiry accuse Russian President Vladimir Putin of directing a "mafia state." Meanwhile, Royal Air Force fighters intercepted Russian bombers close to British airspace this week, prompting authorities to summon Moscow’s ambassador. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Neighborhood Divided Over Conflict

People in eastern Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk districts find themselves squarely in the path of advancing Russian-backed rebels, who want to take back the territory they held at the beginning of the conflict last year. Many local residents are afraid, but others would welcome the change, even when a rebel shell lands in their neighborhood. From the Luhansk district, 15 kilometers from where the Ukrainian government marks the front line, VOA’s Al Pessin reports.
Video

Video Threat of Creeping Lava Has Hawaiians on Edge

Residents of the small town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii face an advancing threat from the Kilauea volcano. Local residents are keeping a watchful eye on creeping lava. Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Later

Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Pro-Kremlin Youth Group Creatively Promotes 'Patriotic' Propaganda

As Russia's President Vladimir Putin faces international pressure over Ukraine and a failing economy, unofficial domestic groups are rallying to his support. One such youth organization, CET, or Network, uses creative multimedia to appeal to Russia's urban youth with patriotic propaganda. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Issues or Ethnicity? Question Divides Nigeria

As Nigeria goes to the polls next month, many expect the two top presidential contenders to gain much of their support from constituencies organized along ethnic or religious lines. But are faith and regional blocs really what political power in Nigeria is about? Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.

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

All About America

AppleAndroid