Clarion call to take charge against HIV-AIDS

By: Javu Baloyi

The Commission for Gender Equality notes with great admiration the decline in HIV and Aids prevalence numbers across the country.

The commission wishes to send a message of support to all those people who are affected and infected and wish to extend our deepest sympathy to those who have lost a loved one due to the pandemic.

Much as we are pleased with government’s initiatives to combat the disease and the Health Department’s plan that by 2011 they want 80 percent of sufferers to be on antiretroviral drugs.

We are , however, concerned about the number of people who are on ARVs, as the health department states.

The commission has established a thematic committee that looks at the impact of gender violence and HIV and Aids.  The committee states that it is important for government and civil society organizations to form a collective approach in order to defeat HIV and Aids.

The commission will continue to monitor and evaluate this plan to determine whether the department achieves this objective.

We believe it is the responsibility of every South African citizen and those that are within our borders to ensure that we live a responsible life that ensures that we adhere to healthy sexual practices in order to defeat the scourge.

It is also encouraging to note that boys and some men are now using condoms to safeguard their lives and those of their partners.

Together we can do more in ensuring that the scourge of HIV and Aids is arrested for the betterment of the lives of many who hoe to see an HIV and Aids free generation.

We will, as an institution, in the near future launch our own report on monitoring the national and provincial HIV and Aids plans.  We continue to call upon both men and women to share the burden of HIV and Aids together in ensuring that those that are living with the disease are not discriminated against.

The stigma and stereotyping around the disease should be eradicated as we build on the good foundation that is being laid.

The commission urges all South Africans to talk openly about the dangers of the diseases and how to encourage sexually active boys and girls to abstain until they are ready to engage in sexual acts.

We will, through radio campaigns, opinion pieces and other educational campaigns engage society in ensuring that young women and men practice safe sex and that they have to go for testing every six months to safe-guard their lives and of others.

The commission will most definitely support any initiative that will curb the scourge of HIV and Aids from spiraling out of control.

It is also our wish that robust awareness campaigns should be conducted in the rural areas where patriarchy is still dominant, to educate people.

We call on every citizen to take charge, particularly for both men and women to share responsibility in fighting the disease, bearing in mind that South Africa is one of the countries that have the highest number of people living with HIV and Aids in the sub-Saharan region.