Stigmatization and lack of funding to fight the spread of HIV/Aids are among the biggest concerns that were raised at the commemoration of World Aids Day in Dannhauser in northern KwaZulu-Natal.
Latest data from the World Health Organisation notes that last year, over 7.5 million South Africans were living with HIV.
Of these infected persons, five million were women. KwaZulu-Natal still has the highest number of people living with HIV.
Community-based organisations as well as those living with HIV united in their call to fight the scourge of HIV/Aids.
They say after so many years, HIV positive people are still experiencing discrimination.
Lindiwe Dlamini, who is a mother of two, has been living with the virus for almost 19 years.
Dlamini says stigmatization experienced by those infected is demotivating. She says living in rural areas is also a challenge.
“In 2003, I was diagnosed with HIV/Aids and there are so many challenges that I am going through as I am living in a rural area. People still call us names and I am surviving because I am strong and I know what I want because if I can die now nobody will look after my children.”
The province is still leading with the highest HIV/Aids burden. Inequality and other societal issue also are areas of concern. Premier Nomusa Dube-Ncube says they have established programmes that will help tackle these challenges and also raise awareness.
“We are having what we call CCMDD where people don’t need to go to the hospitals or big clinics to access their medication. But they go to their churches and access their medication.”
HIV/Aids activist Sakhile Xaba calls for those receiving Antiretroviral treatment to ensure that they take their medication as prescribed.
“Whenever there is an opportunity, it’s better to borrow money from the neighbour instead of defaulting on their medication and they must make sure they get their treatment on time.”
Provincial MEC for Health Nomagugu Simelane says they are concerned that the youth are still leading with the highest infection.
“Actually, the message that we are putting through is not effective as we thought it would have. So, we have decided to change the method of conveying the message. Some of the messages that we have put there, re messages that make our people to stop and talk about it and ask questions and we want to start the conversation.”
Meanwhile, community-based organisations are calling for resources and funding especially for groups in rural areas, to fight HIV/Aid.
Government says efforts by scientists to develop new HIV preventative methods are continuing.
According to UNAIDS, inequality is hampering efforts to deal with the HIV/Aids pandemic.
Currently, the world will not meet agreed global targets of eradicating the virus by 2030.
Professor Sheila Dinotshe Tlou, Co-chair of the Nursing Now global campaign and the Global HIV Prevention Coalition shares more: