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[xmca] Do you know your HIV status?

I'm paraphrasing Mail and Guardian news reports here, but here is the South African update for this global problem:

South Africa, a nation of about 50-million, has an estimated 5,7-million people infected with HIV -- more than any other country in the world. Nearly 1 000 South Africans die every day of Aids-related diseases.

While South Africa's HIV-infection rate may have stabilised, experts warn that the country's slow response to the pandemic has triggered a time bomb that may leave one in three children orphaned. "Estimates show that by 2015, some 5 700 000 or 32% of all children in South Africa would have lost one or both parents due to HIV/Aids," said Gail Eddy, a researcher at the Institute of Race Relations.

In 2008 there were 1,5-million Aids orphans according to the country's health department. She said as the pandemic continues to shorten the lives of parents more children were going to be orphaned and the number of child-headed households would increase.

Former president Thabo Mbeki's government questioned the link between HIV and Aids, and his health minister distrusted drugs developed to keep Aids patients alive, instead promoting beetroot and garlic as Aids treatments.
A Harvard study has concluded that more than 300 000 premature deaths in South Africa could have been prevented had officials here acted sooner to provide drug treatments to Aids patients and to prevent pregnant women with HIV from passing the virus to their children."

Some have referred to his stance as 'genocide'

Today, South Africa's president Jacob Zuma argued that extraordinary measures were needed to address South Africa's HIV problem. 

He called on all South Africans to test and know their status. He also promised an upscaling of ARV treatment provision.

"The HIV tests are voluntary and they are confidential. We know that it is not easy. It is a difficult decision to take," Zuma said. "I am making arrangements for my own test. I have taken HIV tests before, and I know my status. I will do another test soon," he said. "I urge you to start planning for your own tests."

His public candour marked a sharp break from the denialist policies of former president Thabo Mbeki, who defied scientific evidence to question the link between HIV and Aids, delaying the provision of treatment to millions of people"


Mary van der Riet; School of Psychology; University of KwaZulu-Natal
Private Bag X01, Scottsville, 3209

email: vanderriet@ukzn.ac.za
tel: 033 260 6163;  fax: 033 2605809

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