Editorial: How we can defeat HIV/Aids

It's time to stop some myths and misconceptions in their tracks. Together we must fight HIV
It's time to stop some myths and misconceptions in their tracks. Together we must fight HIV

Chek’ Impilo rhymes well and sounds cool.

It is even more cool when it is part of the commemoration of today’s World Aids Day’s theme, Communities make the difference – Cheka Impilo.

It is a rallying call to action for all citizens, regardless of one’s status, to take responsibility for their health and wellness.

And that’s where the nation needs to focus its energy to fight the scourge of HIV/Aids in our communities.

The Joint UNAIDS Programme on HIV/Aids has set the 90-90-90 target and expects all countries to be meet this goal by next year.

UNAIDS’s aim is to ensure that 90% of people living with HIV are tested and know their status, that 90% of people living with HIV are receiving treatment and that 90% of people on treatment have a suppressed viral load.

Knowing what the nation can achieve when united towards a common goal, it is time for South Africans to aim higher than the UNAIDS target by achieving 100% on the goals.

Read: Aids in SA is a global emergency. Here’s how we can slow it down

Yes, we can walk, chest out, for rolling out the largest antiretroviral programme in the world, making condoms available in almost all corners of the country and for testing more people for HIV/Aids.

But a newer goal is what we should aim for.

While we focus on the new goal, we should not lose sight of other problems that lead people to stop taking their antiretrovirals as soon as they feel they are better; encourage abstinence and discourage people from having multiple sexual partners.

All this can become possible when communities come together to make the difference in their small way.

The fruits of our collective efforts will have a major effect in the fight.

But, above all, we need to ask ourselves why – after extensive sex education programmes, condom distribution and other efforts being made to fight the virus – South Africa is still sitting with a problem of new infections daily.

Surely, we should, by now, be a nation that can say no to unsafe sex; scorn the culture of blesser/blessee and encourage our youngsters to look after their health?

If it takes a village to raise a child, then let this village called South Africa go further and make sure its children grow in an HIV-free environment.

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