"Get vaccinated, know your HIV status, and help us beat 'Double-Pandemic' of HIV/AIDS and COVID-19," urges MEC Simelane

01 December 2021

KwaZulu-Natal Health MEC Ms Nomagugu Simelane is urging citizens to get tested for HIV/Aids, so that those who test positive can be initiated on treatment immediately. This will make them progressively less susceptible to severe illness of death due to COVID-19 if they get infected.

Along with chronic diseases such as diabetes and hypertension, a high HIV viral load and weakened immune system have been found to be among the leading causes of severe illness, complications, or death due to COVID-19.

With no fewer than 7,7 million people living with HIV in South Africa today, the country has one of the world’s highest HIV prevalence rates, while the Province of KwaZulu-Natal is the second most affected by HIV and AIDS, with more than 1, 632 million living with HIV. At least 42 619 new infections have been reported in the Province in 2021 alone.

Meanwhile, within the space of just 20 months, 14 789 people have died due to COVID-19 in KwaZulu-Natal.

This year marks 40 years since the discovery of AIDS, and World Aids Day was commemorated throughout the country today, under the theme "Working Together To End Inequalities. AIDS, TB and COVID-19: Get Tested. Get Vaccinated. Adhere to Treatment."

Speaking during a commemorative community outreach programme at Osizweni earlier today, MEC called on citizens to know their HIV status, adding that only vaccination could protect them against COVID-19.

"We are pleading with our people to get tested for HIV, so that they can know their HIV status and be put on treatment if they're positive. In this day and age, no-one should be dying from HIV and AIDS having not been on treatment, because it is easily accessible.

"HIV is not a death sentence. A person who takes ARVs is like any other who is on chronic medication, such as that for diabetes, hypertension, and many others. So, we're encouraging our fellow compatriots to remain on treatment. If they do, even if COVID-19 - which has given us a double pandemic as a country (along with HIV/Aids) - enters their body, their immune system will have grown and become boosted to an extent that they may not necessarily become severely ill or die.

"We are also urging everyone from the age of 12 to get vaccinated. There's a lot of false information out there, which is keeping people from getting vaccinated. That’s one of the points that we were emphasising today...that the COVID-19 vaccine is just like any other, and there is no reason for people to be afraid of it. It enables the body to fight the virus if it enters your body."

MEC Simelane said the Province would build on the success of districts such as Umzinyathi, Ugu, Umkhanyakude and Harry Gwala Districts, which had managed to achieve the ambitious 90-90-90 targets for the management of HIV and AIDS.

This means 90% of citizens should know their HIV status; 90% must be on treatment; and 90% must be virally suppressed.

Although many of the Province's programmes had been disrupted by the emergence of COVID-19, more would be done to make healthcare facilities friendlier and more welcoming to the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex (LGBTQI+) community, including availing services that enable safer sexual practices for them.

Other programmes that will be strengthened include medical male circumcision, and the actively promotion of the usage of condoms and other contraceptives, in order to prevent unplanned and unwanted pregnancies, said the MEC.


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This page last edited on 02 December, 2021

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