Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa calls for stronger action to end AIDS by 2030
SANAC Chairperson Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa has called on all South Africans to make their views heard on the new National Strategic Plan (NSP) on HIV, TB and STIs. Ramaphosa was speaking at the SANAC plenary held in Pretoria on 11 November.
The NSP is the strategic guide for the country’s comprehensive response to HIV, tuberculosis and sexually transmitted infections. It is revised every five years. With the current NSP on HIV, TB and STIs (2012-2016) coming to an end in December, the focus has been on the development of the NSP for the next five years – covering the period 1 April 2017 to 31 March 2022.
The new NSP is set to be launched on World TB Day (24 March), since TB is the leading cause of death in people living with HIV.
“I urge all of you to take part in the NSP development processes. Let us ensure that the various constituencies that we represent also contribute their ideas to the NSP. Working together, we will end AIDS by 2030,” said Ramaphosa.
Legalising sex work and protecting adolescent girls and young women also took centre stage at the plenary.
It was unanimously agreed that sex work needs to be redefined in order to address the intersectional challenges it presents against HIV response efforts. “We need to redefine sex work to include those who are not selling sex on the streets per se but are still having sex for money,” said Vuyokazi Gonyela of Section 27.
The increase in new infections among adolescent girls and young women means that the country needs a smarter HIV prevention approach. Statistics indicate that 2000 adolescent girls and young women are infected with HIV per week. Current popular trends among young women such as having “blessers” and “sugar-daddies” remain a contentious issue.
“We need to address the issue of blessers in this discussion (about the upcoming NSP 2017-2022),” said one delegate at the plenary.
Lessons from AIDS 2016
Ramaphosa said hosting the International AIDS conference in July this year, left South Africa better equipped to respond to HIV and TB.
“As a country, we emerged from the conference inspired, empowered and far better equipped to confront the many challenges we face. We had much to share and learn about policy, programmes, science, research, funding and social mobilization. Many of the lessons from AIDS 2016 are being incorporated in our new National Strategic Plan (2017-2022),” said the Deputy President.
Opening the conference on the birthday of the late former president Nelson Mandela, was a significant moment, Ramaphosa noted. “Inspired by Madiba’s moral and political leadership, we were united in our message that it is in our hands to end AIDS in our generation.” Thus the theme for this this year’s World AIDS Day, ‘It is in our Hands to end HIV and TB’.
The plenary was also attended by civil society representatives, researchers as well as Minister of Women Susan Shabangu and Minister of Health Dr. Aaron Motsoaledi.