World AIDS Day 2018 theme encourages everyone to know their HIV status
This year’s theme for World AIDS Day, which will be marking its 30th anniversary on 1 December, will be “Know your status”.
The SACBC AIDS Office currently has projects in six districts of South Africa where we will be celebrating World Aids Day with Candle Lighting, prayers for those affected by HIV and distribution of information leaflets to the general public. HIV testing will be an important component of the celebrations.
To date, significant progress has been made in the AIDS response for reducing the impact of the HIV pandemic in South Africa. In 2017, of the 7.9 million people living with HIV in South Africa, 60% are on ARVs. Our next task is to find the remaining 40% through intensive testing campaigns and link them to treatment, quality care and prevention services.
South Africa has the largest ARV program in the world. This has resulted in reducing the child mortality among children by 20% and reducing the rate of new infections by 44%. However the rate of new infections among young people remains alarmingly high. This calls for intensive sexual and reproductive health education for the young population.
HIV testing is essential for expanding treatment and ensuring that all people living with HIV can lead healthy and productive lives. It is also crucial to achieving the 90–90–90 targets and empowering people to make choices about HIV prevention so they can protect themselves and their loved ones.
Unfortunately, many barriers to HIV testing remain. Stigma and discrimination still deters people from taking an HIV test. Access to confidential HIV testing is still an issue of concern. Many people still only get tested after becoming ill and symptomatic.
The good news is that there are many new ways of expanding access to HIV testing. Self-testing, community-based testing and multi-disease testing are all helping people to know their HIV status.
Catholic Church in our regions, through SACBC AIDS Office, has committed to invest in ensuring that all novel and innovative approaches to HIV testing are fully leveraged and taken to scale.
Catholic Church invites all to join hands on this World AIDS Day and after in raising awareness about the importance of knowing one’s status and calling for the removal of all barriers to accessing HIV testing.
For more information contact: Mrudula Smithson (Southern Africa Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SACBC) AIDS Office Director): Tel: 012 323 6458, Cell: 0844052452, firstname.lastname@example.org