Aids epidemic seems to be stabilizing

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The HIV/Aids epidemic is believed to be stabilizing, but more needs to be done to prevent new infections. This emerged at the 6th SAHARA (Social Aspects of HIV and AIDS Research Alliance) conference at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, which started in Port Elizabeth on Monday. Higher Education Aids and representatives from 23 higher education institutions are discussing interventions directed at addressing HIV/Aids.

Director of SAHARA, Professor Nancy Phaswana-Mafuya says the country is turning the tide against the epidemic. “According to the UN Aids report, the HIV/Aids epidemic is stabilizing but as we know, the damage that has already happened and now we need to scale up on prevention so that we prevent any further infections.” A health expert says the youth – aged between 18 and 35 – make up the largest group of HIV infected South Africans. Dr Ramneek Ahluwalia, the head of Higher Education HIV/Aids programme, says turning the tide against the epidemic is crucial for the country’s future development. “Scientists and researchers across the globe and specifically in South Africa are working extensively in trying to achieve the final treatment and cure that can prevent HIV/aids. We need to ask our people not to involve in concurrent partnerships. We want our people to understand that loyalty is very important. We need to advertise safe sex. Education plays a huge role. We need to teach our new generation, that is where we need to groom our people to understand the reality of HIV/aids and how they can live a safe life and how they can preach to the community a safe life. That’s where our goal is.”

Aids gel findings Aids researchers have suspended an antiretroviral containing oral tablets and gel in a large clinical trial. The study was evaluating whether the daily use of Tenofovir gel and pills was effective in preventing HIV infection in women. An independent Data Safety Monitoring Board has recommended that researchers stop the Tenofovir arm of the VOICE study, conducted in South Africa, Uganda and Zimbabwe. Africa Director of the Global Campaign for Microbicides, Samukeliso Dube says 6% of participants contracted HIV during the trial Meanwhile, Director of the Centre for the Aids Programme of Research in South Africa, Professor Salim Abdool Karim, says critics should not be too quick discount the effectiveness of Tenofovir gel in preventing HIV transmission to women. Reacting to the findings of a recent study that shows that the vaginal gel failed to protect over 5 000 women across 15 countries. The Durban academic says the results are baffling, as the Caprisa trials have yielded positive evidence. Professor Karim says it’s important to know the reasons for the failure.

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