Aids Focus

SA marks Aids day with record ribbon

2012-12-01 21:39
South Africa has unveiled a 1.5km Aids ribbon in Johannesburg, with activists and officials pledging to curb the epidemic. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

South Africa has unveiled a 1.5km Aids ribbon in Johannesburg, with activists and officials pledging to curb the epidemic. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

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Johannesburg - South Africa, home to the world's largest HIV caseload, on Saturday unveiled a 1.5km Aids ribbon in Johannesburg, with activists and officials pledging to curb the epidemic.

Created from over 6 000 red T-shirts pinned together, the ribbon was rolled out at Constitution Hill, which houses the Constitutional Court, and unfurled through the streets of Braamfontein.

The ribbon, beating a record previously held by India, is seen as a "visual symbol of the country's commitment to eradicating HIV/Aids" in a country where six of the 51.8 million inhabitants live with the virus.

"Because of this event we are going to get more awareness," said one of the organisers, Amanda Blankfield of Afrika Tikkun, a health and education NGO.

Organisers of the Aids ribbon event will submit aerial photographs to the Guinness World Records for verification.

Stigma

Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe said SA was on the right path.

"I can confidently say that the journey toward an Aids-free world has begun, and South Africa is definitely on the right path," he said in a speech marking World Aids Day in Potchefstroom.

Despite being home to the world's largest population of people living with HIV and its biggest consumer of anti-retroviral (ARV) drugs, about a fifth of the world market, SA is still battling with stigma around the disease.

"The murder of gay men and lesbians, acts of violence such as so-called 'corrective rapes' are a violation of the rights of others and must be condemned in the strongest possible terms," Motlanthe said.

On Thursday, Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi announced SA had used its massive market share to negotiate a record-low price on a three-in-one, fixed-dose combination drug, to be rolled out in April 2013.

The once-a-day tablet will cost patients R89.37 rand a month, the world's lowest ever for the regimen.

The government plans to expand the treatment to reach 2.5 million people in the next two years.

SA once refused to roll out ARVs under former president Thabo Mbeki, whom activists have condemned as an "Aids denialist".

- AFP

Read more on:    kgalema motlanthe  |  health  |  hiv/aids
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