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Cabinet gives thumbs-up to new Aids plan

Staff Reporter

The Cabinet has approved an implementation plan to scale up the HIV/Aids prevention programme recently presented by Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi.

The Cabinet has approved an implementation plan to scale up the HIV/Aids prevention and treatment programme recently presented by Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi.

The new plan aims to reduce the rate of infection by 50% by 2011 and provide antiretroviral (ARV) treatment to 80% of those who need the treatment, government spokesperson Themba Maseko told a media briefing on Thursday following Cabinet’s regular meeting on Wednesday.

“More emphasis will be placed on prevention through information, education, widespread distribution of condoms and mobilisation of millions of South Africans to know their status,” he said.

Highlights of the new plan include voluntary and public HIV/Aids testing led by Cabinet members and other leaders from broader society; a move from voluntary counselling and testing (VCT) to HIV counselling and testing (HCT); and a service-delivery model that offers testing to all patients at the entry points in all health institutions.

The target of the HCT campaign is to test up to 15-million people by June 2011, Maseko said.

Healthy lifestyles
The campaign will also promote healthy lifestyles and increase access to treatment, care and support. All public health facilities, fixed and mobile, will be equipped to offer HIV testing and to provide ARVs.

Retired and non-practising medical staff, such as doctors, nurses and pharmacists, will be asked to make themselves available to the health system to support this initiative. Motsoaledi has already written letters to all retired and non-practising practitioners, appealing to them to support the campaign.

Cabinet also appealed to these professionals to respond positively to Motsoaledi’s call “in the country’s hour of need”.

The new HIV/Aids implementation plan will be launched in Gauteng on April 15, with provincial launches in all provinces on April 19.

Public testing will also take place during the launches.

The Cabinet urged all South Africans to be part of this initiative by making themselves available for testing to know their status, live healthy lifestyles and help the nation defeat HIV/Aids, Maseko said.

Forty-two million condoms
Meanwhile, the Health Department on Wednesday welcomed Britain’s plan to give South Africa 42-million condoms ahead of the Soccer World Cup.

“The Department of Health welcomes the support made in an announcement by the British minister for international development [Gareth Thomas] that his country will help South Africa to buy additional condoms as part of efforts to combat the spread of HIV and Aids,” it said in a statement.

This was in response to a request by President Jacob Zuma for an extra billion condoms for the thousands of soccer fans expected to visit the country.

He had asked for British help during his recent visit to the UK to meet Queen Elizabeth II.—Sapa

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