KHULEKANI MAZIBUKO | 12 August, 2011 01:24
Despite being the province with the most HIV-related deaths, the KwaZulu-Natal Aids Council says that the latest statistics showed it is winning the battle against the spread of infection.
The council, chaired by Premier Zweli Mkhize, met on Wednesday in Pietermaritzburg, where the findings were discussed, including a report on the male medical circumcision programme.
Mkhize said mother-to-child infections had dropped to 2.8% compared to 22% in 2005.
"We are grateful for this success, and we encourage everyone in government and in communities to ensure that no child in our province is born with HIV and no child gets infected at a later stage," said Mkhize.
He said more than 10000 circumcisions had been conducted by the health department using the Tara Klamp and that all those circumcised were alive and had not suffered.
Mkhize, however, voiced concerns about the high rate of girls being infected with HIV and blamed "sugar- daddies" for this.
He urged communities to go for voluntary testing, stressing its importance in early intervention.
"We would like to urge all community members from all wards and households in the province to contribute in the fight against HIV, as our province is showing a prevalence of 39.5%," he said.
Provincial Treatment Action Campaign spokesman Ntombizonke Ndlovu confirmed that the mother-to-child rate was on the decline, but expressed concern that the infections were now "post-delivery".
Ndlovu said despite current awareness programmes, people still needed additional education.
"A mother who has a CD4 count lower than 350 is put on antiretrovirals immediately, but people take time to visit health institutions, which is a setback. People are still failing to disclose their status to families and need to be educated about the importance of disclosing," she said.