The South African government has developed a new strategic plan that aims to reduce HIV infections by half and initiate 80% of eligible people on antiretroviral treatment.
The Gauteng Strategic Plan for HIV, TB and sexually transmitted infections, tabled on Wednesday at the Gauteng Aids Council by Health MEC Hope Papo, noted that the province had made significant progress in the past years to reduce infections, provide treatment and prolong the lives of people on treatment.
HIV infection among pregnant mothers had stabilised at around 30% and TB incidence rates had dropped from 424 people per 100 000 in 2006 to 239 per 100 000 in 2010.
Currently, there were 500 000 people on antiretroviral therapy in the province and the number of people dying from HIV and Aids complications had dropped by 20%. The TB cure rate had also shown a significant improvement from 64.4% in 2005 to 79.4% in 2010.
Papo said that the new plan sought to build on these successes by reducing the number of new TB infections further and cutting the number of TB deaths by 50% by 2016.
"The new plan also seeks to reduce new HIV infections by 50% and ensure that the [percentage of] people who are on treatment and alive five years after starting treatment is kept at 70%."
Papo added that the province planned to massively step up its HIV counselling and testing campaign in the next four years to ensure that three million get tested every year. The campaign will be taken to education institutions, hostels, informal settlement and workplaces.
"From this month to September, the campaign will focus on saving the lives of mothers and babies and providing support to orphans and vulnerable children. The women and the children sector will lead this campaign that will involve the youth, women, schools, the faith based sector and traditional sector in prevention and testing activities.
"From October to December, the campaign will focus on safe sex for men and high risk groups. The sports, entertainment and men’s sector will lead this campaign, which is expected to also reach men in hostels," said Papo.
From January to March, Papo said the campaign would focus on unemployed youth and youth in education institutions.
"From April to June, the focus of the campaign will be on treatment and testing and families will be targeted with messages driven by people living with HIV and AIDS, the faith sector and people caring for the HIV infected."