Remarks by KZN Health MEC Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo on World Aids Day, at Dannhauser, Amajuba District

01 December 2017

KZN is the Province that is has the highest burden of HIV in the country. Much has been accomplished to fight the spread of this malady and it’s all thanks to the pivotal role that is played by Amakhosi, Traditional Healers, Faith-Based Organisations and civil society.

This year’s World AIDS Day theme is: “Let Our Actions Count: It Is My Right to Know My Status, Prevention is My Responsibility”

It is more about increasing LIFE EXPECTANCY.

The life expectancy of South Africans has now increased from 56 years to 60 years on average. People are no longer dying in large numbers, with funerals from AIDS-related deaths every weekend. We have restored hope and given our fellow compatriots the precious gift of life.

Indeed, having a healthier citizenry means that people live for a long time, until their children are old enough and are independent.

Universal Test & Treat

KZN Department of Health have strengthened efforts to scale up ART care and treatment services. To date, about 1, 3 million people living with HIV in KZN are receiving ARVs.

This means that people found to be HIV positive are now initiated on ART treatment immediately after they are diagnosed with HIV. To be where we are in this regard, it is thanks to nurses trained in the Nurse-Initiated Management of Anti-Retroviral Treatment (NIMART). They have played a huge role in scaling up access to treatment as patients no longer have to wait for a doctor to assist them. It also means that initiation to ARVs is now offered at PHC (clinic) level.

Having nurses trained on NIMAART has also made it seamless to introduce the Universal Test and Treat (UTT) approach which is based on two pillars:

  • Early diagnosis and treatment decreases the risk of HIV/AIDS and non-HIV/AIDS-related health problems;
  • The reduction of viral load to undetectable levels will dramatically reduce the current transmission rate of HIV.

To make things easy for those infected we have also improved the quality of treatment by reducing consumption burden by introducing Fixed Dose Combination. We also hail the remarkable work being performed by the lay counsellors and community care givers who continue delivering a comprehensive intensive patient education that helps to facilitate and promote basic knowledge about HIV as well as adherence to treatment. Testing. We also thank our populace for believing and supporting our HIV awareness and testing campaigns, such as Zivikele/Hlola Manje. It is thanks to that support that in the 2016/2017 financial year, we were able to get 9, 9 million people tested.

Youth Friendly Services

As means to ensure that no one is left behind, we have established the concept of Adolescent and Youth User-friendly services. Here we strive to create an environment whereby young people feel welcome to seek any kind of service at public health facilities, without fear of being judged upon. On an ongoing basis, we continue to urge our healthcare professionals to desist from passing judgement on young people when they present at our facilities seeking services, but instead ensure that they are assisted.

The youth is encouraged to take advantage of this exciting opportunity with services such as:

  • HIV education, counselling and testing
  • Sexually Transmitted Infections education and diagnosis
  • Contraceptive education and provision
  • Pregnancy testing, antenatal and postnatal care
  • Education on chronic diseases and disabilities, as well as,
  • Substance abuse, amongst others

Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission

We appreciate the participation of all the stakeholders that helped ensure that all pregnant women attend Antenatal care as early as possible preferable in the 1st 20 weeks. For this we say thanks to reinforced household and community pregnancy testing being performed by our Community Care Givers who now offer community based testing initiative. As a province, the next big challenge that we need to overcome is to ensure that we turn the Elimination of Mother to Child Transmission (EMCT) of HIV into a reality. This is about seeing KwaZulu Natal further reducing Mother to Child Transmission rate from the baseline of 2.9% in 2012 to 0.6% at birth and 0.8% around 10 weeks by 2021. This we hope to achieve through improving and enhancing systems for linking prevention, treatment, care and support services for all pregnant/breastfeeding women, their partners and children) across the continuum of care.

Medical Male Circumcision

It will be recalled that His Majesty the King made a clarion call in 2009 for the revival of circumcision Medical Male Circumcision is a key HIV prevention strategy rolled out to curb HIV infections. This is because He learnt that circumcision is one of the second most important tools we can use to fight against HIV pandemic, after condom use

We are thus extremely pleased that KZN is within touching distance of the 1 million mark for men and boys circumcised under government’s safe Medical Male Circumcision programme.

We have now circumcised more than 993 000 boys and men. This is thanks to good social mobilization activities as championed by A makhosi, traditional healers; partners and community leaders, among others, for which we are extremely grateful. We appeal to communities to help us achieve the following:

  • 90% of all people living with HIV to know their status
  • 90% of those diagnosed with HIV to be on ART treatment
  • 90% of those diagnosed with HIV to be having the virus suppressed

We say – Nobody Must Be Left Behind.

I thank you.

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