South Africa's fight against HIV/Aids: Changing tides
With World Aids Day being around the corner, the South African government led by interim president Kgalema Mothlante, has called onto South Africans to actively participate in raising awareness about HIV/Aids.
"HIV, Aids and TB (tuberculosis) remain national priorities requiring urgent action by all sectors of society," spokesperson Themba Maseko told a media earlier this week. "The Government, in partnership with the South African National Aids Council (SANAC), calls on South Africans to participate in activities that are aimed at raising awareness about HIV and Aids," Maseko said.
With these statements, the new administration is trying to convince the country that it takes the issue of HIV/AIDS more seriously then was the case under the previous regime of Thebo Mbeki.
Shortly after Mothlante was sworn in in September this year, replacing Thabo Mbeki, he ditched health minister Manto Tshabalala and replaced her by Aids expert Barbara Hogan.
Tshabalala, nicknamed Dr Beetroot, served as Minister of Health from 1999 to 2008 and caused quite an international stir by saying that South Africa's could be best treated with vegetables such as garlic, beet root and African potatoes rather than with anti-retroviral drugs.
New government programmes have also been developed to curb the epidemic, and a new national strategic plan is about to be implemented. The main pillars of this plan include: Ensuring that mothers with HIV remain healthy, prevent HIV transmission from mother to child during pregnancy and birth, increase access to antiretrovirals (ARVs), and to promote healthy lifestyles through reducing sexual partners and using condoms, knowing your status, and ensuring that children from households affected by HIV and Aids are protected and supported.