Health Minister Zweli Mkhize says he is prepared to work with the youth to break the stigma around HIV and Aids. This comes as people across the globe commemorate World AIDS Day. Mkhize was speaking at the National HIV/Aids awareness event in Soweto, Johannesburg.
“Part of what we are dealing with even now, as we are dealing with COVID, is issues of youth health as well as family planning. Young people must not feel marginalised and sidelined. We will be working with the NGOs, please come to me and the premier as we would like to work with you. In the same light, I would like us to focus on the issue of stigma, in the sense of what are these actions in the health facility that exacerbate the stigma and let me work together with you as a champion of fighting that stigma.”
The Minister has thanked the youth for sharing their stories. “So today I say thank you for opening our minds to the realities of those who live with HIV. Today we have got youth who reflect our dreams when, many years ago, we targeted the elimination of mother-to-child HIV transmission. We are now witnessing this youth themselves becoming parents and activists, advocating for continued advancement in the combat against HIV.”
HIV/Aids stats :
He has urged people living with HIV not to lose hope when they face discrimination. Most young people told Deputy President David Mabuza and Mkhize that they have to endure discrimination in most health care facilities.
Mkhize says they will deal harshly with all those who make disparaging comments about people living with HIV.
UNAIDS 90-90-90 targets
The Minister says progress has been made in South Africa to achieve the UNAIDS 90-90-90 targets. The targets aim to end AIDS as a public health threat by 2030. The targets state that 90% of People Living with HIV (PLHIV) must know their status; 90% of those, must be on ART; and of those on ART, 90% must be virally suppressed.
“The country has witnessed significant progress towards these targets and is currently at 93-73-88. ART coverage remains highest among adult women, at 69%, whilst ART coverage in adult males is at 55%. ART coverage in children is the lowest at 46%.”
Minister Zweli Mkhize’s speech:
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