Aids Focus

HIV/Aids: Zuma factor helping

2012-07-24 22:37
More than half of people who knew that President Jacob Zuma tested for HIV were far more likely to discuss HIV testing with their sex partners, according to a survey. (File, Beeld)

More than half of people who knew that President Jacob Zuma tested for HIV were far more likely to discuss HIV testing with their sex partners, according to a survey. (File, Beeld)

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Johannesburg - More than half of people who knew that President Jacob Zuma tested for HIV were far more likely to discuss HIV testing with their sex partners, according to a survey released on Tuesday.

President Zuma had taken an HIV test in public in 2010, and later disclosed his status, as part of the "I am Responsible" campaign.

Now, according to the results of the 3rd South African National HIV Communication Survey (NCS), survey respondents who knew that the president had tested were far more likely to discuss HIV testing with their sex partners (52%) than those who were not aware that the president had tested (39%).

"People who talked about testing with their sex partners, in turn, were more likely to test for HIV (63%) than those who did not talk about testing with their partners (33%)."

The stigma surrounding HIV/Aids had subsided, with greater openness in HIV disclosure, as well as testing.

According to the survey, Exposure to HIV/Aids awareness programmes had promoted a significant change in behaviour.

Substantial increases in behaviour that reduced the risk of contracting HIV/Aids were found. These included the use of condoms, HIV counselling and testing, and voluntary male circumcision.

The survey was released at the International Aids Conference in Washington by Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe and Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi.

It was conducted by Johns Hopkins Health and Education in SA, LoveLife and Soul City.

"The data also confirm that exposure to HIV communication programs have a direct impact on people practicing these behaviours," the three organisations said in a statement.

From 1992 to 2012, condom use at first sex increased from 18% to 66%. This change was attributed to condom promotion and the increased availability of condoms.

People who reported using condoms at first sex were less likely to say they were HIV positive, the report found. Those who did not use a condom at first sex reported a higher HIV prevalence.

In the last 12 months, 10.6 million South Africans had been tested as part of the HIV counselling and testing campaign led by President Zuma, Motlanthe and Motsoaledi.

More than 50% of South African men were now circumcised.

Just under one million men intended to be circumcised in the next 12 months.

Researcher Lusanda Mahlasela credited "strong and visible" political leadership on the issue for bringing part of the change.

"HIV testing, male circumcision, and public attitudes towards the disease can only make prevention and treatment much easier over the next five years," Mahlasela said.

The survey was conducted between February and May and designed to be representative of the South African population aged 16 to 55.

More than 10 000 people, across all nine provinces, took part in the survey.

- SAPA

Read more on:    kgalema motlanthe  |  aaron motsoaledi  |  jacob zuma  |  hiv aids  |  health
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