More than 530 000 in province are HIV-positive

There was HIV screening and testing at the Town Centre taxi rank on Friday December 1, World Aids Day.

The public could go for HIV screening and testing at the Town Centre taxi rank on Friday December 1, World Aids Day.

The international day raises awareness of the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (Aids) pandemic, caused by the spread of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). The day shows support for those living with HIV and Aids and mourns those who are among the more than 40 million people believed to have died from Aids-related illnesses since the start of the pandemic. 

At the end of March this year, it was estimated that more than 530 000 people were living with HIV in the province, with 94% knowing their HIV status and 68% on treatment, according to provincial health department spokeswoman Monique Johnstone.

HIV accounted for the fourth-highest number of deaths (5.7%) in the province and affected those aged 15 to 44 the most she said.

The screening and testing at the rank was organised by the Mitchell’s Plain day hospital with support from various other health agencies and organisations.

“I came for an HIV test because it’s important to know your status and take care of your health,” said Reginald Africa, who got tested at the site.

“People must educate themselves and make time to go for an HIV test,” said Ashley Shaefer, a taxi driver from Tafelsig.

Dr Keith Cloete, the head of the provincial health department, said a “whole-of-society approach” could help to get health care to those who needed it the most and minimise the global health threat posed by HIV/Aids in the province.

The public can access HIV testing and treatment at any health-care facility or at the Mitchell’s Plain day hospital’s wellness hubs at The Farm Recreational Hall in Montrose Park, Lentegeur, on Wednesdays or at the Christ the Redeemer Church in Westridge on Tuesdays.