News / Africa

South Africa Says It's on Target for AIDS Goal

South Africa's Minister of Health, Aaron Motsoaledi (C), dances during the launch of a major HIV counseling and testing campaign at Katlehong township outside Johannesburg, April 25, 2010.South Africa's Minister of Health, Aaron Motsoaledi (C), dances during the launch of a major HIV counseling and testing campaign at Katlehong township outside Johannesburg, April 25, 2010.
x
South Africa's Minister of Health, Aaron Motsoaledi (C), dances during the launch of a major HIV counseling and testing campaign at Katlehong township outside Johannesburg, April 25, 2010.
South Africa's Minister of Health, Aaron Motsoaledi (C), dances during the launch of a major HIV counseling and testing campaign at Katlehong township outside Johannesburg, April 25, 2010.
Anita Powell
JOHANNESBURG — As the opening of United Nations International AIDS conference approaches on July 22, the country with the highest number of HIV infections is taking stock of its progress in battling the virus. South Africa is hailing advances in just a few short years, following high-level denial that there even was a problem. But South Africa’s Health Minister says much more needs to be done.

South African health officials say there is very good news, especially in terms of reducing the mother-child HIV transmission, and they are close to meeting their goal of driving down the infection rate to just 2% by 2015.  

"The exposure rate amongst infants in 2011 was very similar to the exposure rate in 2010. But the HIV transmission rate by eight weeks post-delivery had dropped from 3.5% in 2010 to 2.7% in 2011, and this is a significant decline in prenatal HIV transmission," said Dr. Ameena Goga of the nation's Medical Research Council.

Major turnaround in approach

After years of downplaying the public health danger posed by the AIDS virus, South Africa aggressively boosted its programs with awareness campaigns, free condoms, AIDS testing for pregnant women and rolling out the world’s largest public sector anti-retroviral drug treatment program for those infected.

But not all the news is good.   

South Africa’s Health Minister Dr. Aaron Motsoaledi told reporters Thursday in Johannesburg that 60% of HIV/AIDS patients are female and they must be the focus to stem the epidemic in the country.

"This means that we need to deal more decisively with the structural issues that affect the lives of women and girls in particular. Access to education for young girls, keeping girl children in schools for as long as possible, the employment of women in other ways, are critical in our fight against this epidemic, and our new programs must face in this direction," said Motsoaledi.

Pushing for regular HIV testing

South Africa has made strong strides in a short time after radically changing its approach to AIDS under Motsoaledi's leadership. The previous health minister believed the disease could be handled with homeopathic remedies such as garlic and beetroot. And former president Thabo Mbeki denied the disease was a problem and had banned the use of lifesaving anti-retroviral medicines in public health facilities.

President Jacob Zuma reversed those policies. He also has set an example by submitting himself to several public HIV tests, the most recent of which produced a negative result.

Motsoaledi is urging everyone to seek regular HIV testing in an effort to reduce the epidemic and diminish the disease's stigma.

"Yes, I agree that there has been a problem of stigma around South Africa. But that stigma is reducing. Before that, only 2 million South Africans were testing in any one year. That number increased to 15 million. I told them that I'm testing many times a year, because I'm a human being like them, and I'm a human being, I don't trust myself," said Motsoaledi.

South Africa has the world's largest HIV burden, with more than 5.5 million people living with the disease, which is more than 17% of the population.

You May Like

As US Strikes Syria, China Sees Parallels at Home

Beijing is debating how much support to give international coalition against IS militants and trying to figure out how many Chinese nationals may have joined group overseas More

CDC: Ebola Could Infect 1.4 M by 2015

US health officials say if efforts to curb the outbreak are not increased, cases will soar dramatically by early next year More

Video USAID Provides $231 Million for Girls Education in 5 Countries

US Agency for International Development partners with celebrities to call attention to importance of education for girls worldwide 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.
Washington to Pyongyang: 'Shut This Evil System Down'i
X
Scott Stearns
September 23, 2014 10:52 PM
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is calling on North Korea to shut down prison camps and other human rights abuses following a United Nations Commission of Inquiry into "widespread and systematic human rights violations." VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Washington to Pyongyang: 'Shut This Evil System Down'

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is calling on North Korea to shut down prison camps and other human rights abuses following a United Nations Commission of Inquiry into "widespread and systematic human rights violations." VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video US, Gulf Allies Strike Islamic State Militants in Syria

United States forces have carried out strikes against Islamic State or ISIL militant positions in Syria - the first time Western forces have taken action on Syrian soil. Five U.S. allies from the Gulf joined the military action. Local reports suggest dozens of militants were killed. The U.S. also carried out unilateral missile strikes against a Syria-based terror group which Washington says poses an imminent threat to the West. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video High Intensity Focused Ultrasound Used to Kill Cancer Tumor

There is a new way of killing certain cancer tumors that allows the patient to go home on the same day. Surgeons at the Keck Medical Center of the University of Southern California became the first doctors to use this procedure on a patient with the help of high intensity focused ultrasound, or HIFU, and new robotic technology. Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video USAID Provides $231 Million for Girls Education in Five Countries

Hollywood stars Alicia Keys, Jennifer Garner and 30 others have voiced their support for a U.S.-backed initiative called "Let Girls Learn." The $231 million program, funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development, is aimed at ensuring public and quality education for girls worldwide. As VOA's Mariama Diallo reports, this new program will focus on five countries in Africa, South Asia, Latin America and the Middle East.
Video

Video UN: Relocation of Bedouins in Israel Weakens Two-state Solution

Rural Bedouins living in disputed lands east of Jerusalem could soon find themselves forcibly relocated. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Jerusalem that while Israel defends the move as in the Bedouins’ best interests, the United Nations says the plan threatens the survival of the two-state solution with Palestinians.
Video

Video NASA’s MAVEN Probe Enters Mars Orbit

NASA’s newest Mars probe, called MAVEN, has successfully entered its designated orbit around the Red Planet. Scientists will use its sophisticated instruments to try to learn what happened to the atmosphere Mars had a few billion years ago. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Prolonged Drought Plagues SW Oklahoma Farmers

Parts of western Texas and southwestern Oklahoma have been in drought conditions for several years running and the deficit in rainfall has taken a heavy toll on cotton and grain production. Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin says the state has suffered $2 billion in agricultural losses since 2011. There has been rain in recent weeks, but, as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Altus, Oklahoma, for most farmers it has been too late.
Video

Video For West Ukraine City, Conflict Far Away Yet Near

The western Ukrainian city of Lviv prides itself on being both physically and culturally close to Western Europe. The Russian-backed separatists in the eastern part of the country are 1,200 kilometers away, and seemingly even farther away in their world view. Still, as VOA’s Al Pessin reports, the war is having an impact in Lviv.
Video

Video Saving Global Fish Stocks Starts in the Kitchen

With an estimated 90 percent of the world’s larger fish populations having already vanished, a growing number of people in the seafood industry are embracing the concept of sustainable fishing and farming practices. One American marine biologist turned restaurateur in Thailand is spreading the word among fellow chefs and customers. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Chinese Admiral Key in China’s Promotion of Sea Links

China’s President last week wrapped up landmark visits to India, Sri Lanka and Maldives, part of a broader campaign to promote a new “Maritime Silk Road” in Asia. The Chinese government’s promotion efforts rely heavily on the country’s best-known sailor, a 15th century eunuch named Zheng He. VOA's Bill Ide reports from the sailor’s hometown in Yunnan on the effort to promote China’s future by recalling its past.
Video

Video Experts Fear Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid