Gauteng Premier David Makhura says the fight against HIV and AIDS has not been easy in the past year as the country is battling with the COVID-19 pandemic.

He was speaking at a World Aids day event on Wednesday at Duduza on the East Rand.

World Aids Day | Covid-19 slows down progress in fight against HIV/AIDS:

According to Stats SA, over eight million South Africans are living with HIV, many of whom are not on treatment.

“We had some reversals in our battle against HIV and AIDS. As I say the evidence is there that just in Gauteng alone we have lost people who were on ARVs. The number of people who were on treatment has come down. We picked that up in 2020 and we are fighting back now.”

Earlier chairperson of the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) Sibongile Tshabalala said the treatment that people living with HIV/AIDS are getting at public healthcare facilities, especially clinics, is worrying.

She said this often happens when people default on anti-retroviral treatment.

On World AIDS Day today, Tshabalala says the inequality, stigma and discrimination that people living with HIV/AIDS are facing must be urgently addressed.

“The way people living with HIV are treated at clinics is concerning. It is unlike the manner in which other people going to the clinic are treated. If you are HIV positive, you are given a different card from others and you are made to stand in a queue different from others which makes people afraid to go to the clinic,” adds Tshabalala.

“Sometimes if you have gone to take your medication on a certain day, they make you stand at the back of the queue. Even the way nurses treat people living with HIV sometimes result in them defaulting in taking the treatment,” she adds.

South Africa joins other countries in observing the commemorations: