President Jacob Zuma has welcomed the report by Joint United Nations Programme on HIV and AIDS, or UNAIDS on the significant progress that South Africa has made in the fight against HIV/Aids epidemic as part of its programme of meeting the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 6.
The President congratulates all South Africans for their role in the dramatic achievements in the country's fight against HIV and AIDS.
The UNAIDS announced on Tuesday, 14 July 2015, in a report "How Aids Has Changed Everything - Meeting the MDG Targets”, that the world has met and exceeded the AIDS targets of Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 6 and was on track to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030 as part of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The organisation further declared that the goal of 15 million people on life-saving HIV treatment by 2015 has been met and exceeded nine months ahead of schedule.
The report has counted South Africa, which was once counted amongst countries that had major difficulties with regards to HIV and AIDS, as one of the countries that has made significant strides in halting and reversing the epidemic.
The report announced that South Africa has turned around its decline in life expectancy within 10 years, rising from 51 years in 2005 to 61 by the end of 2014, on the back a massive increase in access to antiretroviral (ARVs) therapy.
President Zuma said government was pleased with the report which has proven that South Africa has prioritised the fight against HIV/AIDS epidemic including the treatment of the disease and Tuberculosis in its healthcare policies.
"As government we welcome the report by the UNAIDS which demonstrate that our aggressive HIV/AIDS treatment campaign, which is the biggest in the world, has yielded remarkable results in preventing Aids related deaths and ultimately increasing life expectancy as required by Millennium Development Goal 6.
"On behalf government and all South Africans we gratefully applaud work of the South African National Aids Council (SANAC), our health workers, home and community based healthcare givers and all our health care and medical personnel. More importantly we thank all South Africans for their contribution in the fight against HIV/AIDS,'' said President Zuma.
The President also cautioned: "However these results as announced in the report should not blind us, we have not yet reached our target where South Africa would be a HIV/AIDS free country by 2030. We should not be complacent. The fight against HIV and AIDS continues, and also the fight against the stigma and the support for all infected and affected by the virus should continue,” the President.
The achievements highlighted in the report includes the significant amount of domestic funding that South Africa has provided for the AIDS response, with South Africa being one of the few countries that funds the majority of its response with 1.6billion US Dollars in 2014.
South Africa is listed in the group of countries that has reduced the number of new HIV infections by at least 20 percent and of the 15 million people globally on HIV treatment, more than 3.4 million are in South Africa which.
The report further announced that deaths associated with HIV and AIDS in South Africa have significantly declined by 58% since 2010 and life expectancy has increased from 52 years in 2005 to 61 years by 2014.
The report also declared that AIDS deaths in children under 5 years of age have declined from 25 000 in 2000 to 3 800 in 2014.
The report also notes some of the global challenges that the world including South Africa still have to deal with to end AIDS by 2030.
These include the high number of new infections in young women, high levels of intimate partner violence as well as high rates of multiple sexual partnerships. According to the report, these issues are related to power inequality.
"The report vindicates our position to put health as one of our apex of priorities and clearly we are changing the face of health care in our country. From now on we continue to put our hands on deck to ensure that the country is Aids free by 2030” further said President Zuma.
President Zuma has encouraged South Africans to take precautions by living a safe and healthy lifestyle and that those who are in treatment should continue taking their medication as prescribed by doctors.
"We also repeat our call for people to take the HIV test so that they can be able to receive treatment if needed,'' said the President.