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Health minister will not make his HIV status public

Bongani Mthembu

Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi has said he will not make his HIV test results public as that would put pressure on people who did not follow suit.

Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi on Wednesday said he would not make his HIV test results public because that would put pressure on people who did not want to do so.

“If I release my results, you [media] will go to other people and say Aaron has released his results, what about you,” he said.

He was addressing the media after meeting with the SA National Aids Council (Sanac) in Durban to sell his plan to scale up HIV/Aids prevention and treatment.

Motsoaledi said President Jacob Zuma and Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe would test publicly to encourage all South Africans to know their status. He would also test publicly.

People who wanted to make their test results public and talk about their HIV status would do so, said Motsoaledi.

The new HIV/Aids prevention and treatment programme was recently approved by Cabinet.

The new plan aimed to reduce the rate of HIV infection by 50% by 2011 and to provide antiretroviral (ARV) treatment to 80% of those needing it.

The target of the HIV counselling and testing campaign was to test up to 15 million people by June 2011. The programme would start on April 15.

All public health facilities, fixed and mobile, would be equipped to offer HIV testing and to provide ARVs.

Motsoaledi said more details of the campaign would be announced during a press briefing on March 25. He said he had talked to business leaders, sports personalities, NGOs and religious leaders.

“This is going to be a busy month for me. We are preparing for the largest prevention campaign,” he said.

He said he had met the Sanac because it (Sanac) needed to agree on certain issues regarding the implementation of the programme.

Sanac deputy chairperson, Mark Heywood said he was optimistic with Motsoaledi’s plans to fight against the HIV.

“The public complained for years about the confusing messages that government send about HIV and AIDS. Motsoaledi’s leadership is
the one that we needed,” he said.

The department of health under the leadership of Dr Manto Tshabalala-Msimang was also always criticised for promoting the use of garlic and beetroot instead of life-prolonging antiretroviral drugs.

Heywood said he was happy that health stakeholders had endorsed the new plan to prevent infections and to get people tested.

“We will make sure that all sectors of the society rally behind the minister and ensure that they get tested,” he said.

Motsoaledi said he would meet CEOs of public hospitals in Durban to discuss government’s new plan to increase the roll out of antiretroviral drugs to HIV positive patients.

“We want to make sure that they are ready when the new treatment plan kicks in,” he said.—Sapa

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