THE Department of Health reported that the province of KwaZulu-Natal has made great strides in terms of reducing mother-to-child transmission of HIV from 20% to one percent over the past 10 years. This according to Health MEC Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo, who was speaking during the commemoration of World Aids Day on December 1. Residents in Tongaat and Verulam commemorated the day by educating the youth about HIV/Aids transmission and Osindisweni residents converged at the local hospital for a community event. Programme co-ordinator for Uthando Home Based Care Nana Mthembu said of the community event: “It is important to educate the elders and children about HIV infection and on how to prevent it from spreading amongst our community.”According to a report from the department of health, HIV can spread from a woman to her child during pregnancy, childbirth or breastfeeding. However, the risk of infection can be eliminated through early testing and detection of HIV, commencement of ARVs, and adherence to treatment instructions.Dhlomo said: “We have done extremely well to reduce the rate of mother-to-child transmission of HIV from 20% in 2008 to just one percent. That is a significant milestone. “The challenge now is to make the elimination of mother to child transmission of HIV a reality. We will continue working hard to achieve that.”According to the department, about 1.3million people are taking ARV treatment. The department also said more than one million men and boys have been circumcised in a bid to reduce the rate of HIV infection by up to 60% in 10 years. “When you consider how far we’ve come as a country and province, it sometimes becomes difficult to believe the many strides that have been made to weaken HIV, which once seemed like a deadly and unstoppable monster,” Dlomo said, adding that more focus would also be put on protecting girls and women aged 10 – 24 who face the highest risk of getting infected with HIV.