S. Africa to test, treat 6.2 mln people with HIV by 2020: deputy president

Source: Xinhua| 2017-12-02 04:35:42|Editor: Mu Xuequan
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CAPE TOWN, Dec. 1 (Xinhua) -- South Africa, which has the highest HIV/AIDS prevalence in the world, intends to test and treat at least 6.2 million people with HIV by 2020, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Friday.

Thanks to the efforts of the government and all social partners, South Africa has the biggest HIV treatment program in the world, Ramaphosa said at a major event marking the World AIDS Day in Mthatha, Eastern Cape Province.

South Africa currently puts 4.2 million people on antiretroviral treatment.

"But there is still some way to go because we have about 7.1 million people who are HIV positive," Ramaphosa said.

South Africa will be introducing a new treatment combination from April next year, he said.

Known as Dolutegravir, the combination treatment is good for patients and relatively cheap, according to Ramaphosa.

This in turn "will allow us to put more patients on treatment," he said without elaboration.

Ramaphosa reaffirmed the government's determination to achieve the goal of zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination, and zero AIDS-related deaths.

New infections are coming down, but too slowly, Ramaphosa said.

South Africa, which had an estimated 270,000 new infections in 2016, has set a target to reduce the number to no more than 88,000 by 2020.

Ramaphosa urged South Africans to have their health status tested.

South Africa launched the "She Conquers Campaign" last year with the aim of having more girls and women tested for HIV.

Since then, more than 230,000 adolescent girls and young women have been tested for HIV, among whom 18,000 tested positive and were linked to care.

Without this campaign, they may never have known their status and be on treatment, Ramaphosa said.

"We call on our traditional leaders, religious leaders, civil society formations, government departments and the private sector to learn more about the campaign and to support it," said Ramaphosa.

People should overcome the stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV , which makes it a challenge for people to test for HIV and for those infected to seek treatment, he said.