SEATTLE — South African citizens are seeing a reduction in HIV and AIDS infections contracted throughout the country. The country has the world’s largest concentration of people with HIV and AIDS; approximately 7.1 million people struggle with the illness. Nineteen percent of the world’s HIV/AIDS population resides in South Africa. Many organizations are working to lower the rates of HIV/AIDS in South Africa and to maintain the health of those who have not contracted it.
Efforts by health activists have greatly contributed to the decline of the disease’s infection rate. According to the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), “Since 2010, new HIV infections have decreased by 49 percent and AIDS-related deaths have decreased by 29 percent.”
Programs Addressing Rates of HIV/AIDS in South Africa
Several worldwide efforts targeting the health of HIV/AIDS in South Africa have contributed by providing treatment and education. Right To Care is one organization that provides antiretroviral treatments to lower the blood potency of the infection and reduce a person’s ability to spread the infection.
The AIDS Foundation of South Africa (AFSA) provides information about the infection, works with local health organizations to improve treatment and accessibility and examines the factors that promote the spread of HIV/AIDS in South Africa. The mitigation and treatment of the disease are two things many of the organizations have in common, despite the differences in the specific focuses of the organizations.
The Importance of HIV Prevention for Women
Some aid organizations focus specifically on women, who, according to AVERT, make up more than 50 percent of the population of patients with HIV and AIDS. The organization cites several reasons women are more affected, including the limited autonomy women are granted and their low social and cultural status.
She Conquers, an effort to promote the success of women and help them combat the HIV and AIDS epidemic, was launched in 2016. The South African presidency and South African National AIDS Council (SANAC) founded She Conquers with the hope of empowering young women at risk of contracting HIV.
In an interview with the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC), SANAC deputy chair Mapaseka Steve Letsike said that the plan to reduce infections is in accordance with the UNAIDS 90-90-90 strategy. The goal of South Africa’s national strategic plan is to reduce the number of new infections to less than 100,000 per year by 2022.
The U.N. 90-90-90 Strategy
The 90-90-90 strategy aims to promote health and to reduce the negative impacts of the HIV and AIDS epidemic. The strategy focuses on three main goals, detailed on the UNAIDS website:
- By 2020, 90 percent of all people living with HIV will know their HIV status.
- By 2020, 90 percent of all people with diagnosed HIV infection will receive sustained antiretroviral therapy.
- By 2020, 90 percent of all people receiving antiretroviral therapy will have viral suppression.
With continued help, the rates of HIV transmission will continue to decline and the UNAIDS 90-90-90 goals will be reached, if not surpassed, by 2020.
– Gabriella Evans