Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa: World AIDS Day 2015 Commemoration

Address by Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa during the commemoration of World AIDS Day, Ugu Sports and Leisure Centre, Port Shepstone

Our hosts, the Premier of KwaZulu-Natal, Senzo Mchunu,
Executive Mayor of Ugu District Municipality, Councillor NH Gumede,
Minister of Health, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi,
MEC for Health in KwaZulu-Natal, Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo,
Deputy Chairperson of SANAC, Steve Letsike,
Executive Director of UNAIDS, Michel Sidibe,
Leaders of civil society, labour, business, and communities,
Champions in the fight against HIV and AIDS,
Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is an honour for me to address you this morning as we mark World AIDS Day.

Since 1988, World AIDS Day has provided an opportunity for people across the globe to unite in the fight against the HIV-AIDS epidemic and to show support for people living with HIV.
This fight has brought humanity together.

It has done more to unite the world than to divide it.

This devastating virus has reminded us of our common humanity and our common vulnerability.

It is has also awakened us to our collective strength and shared future.

We know that HIV infects and affects indiscriminately.

But it thrives on ignorance, it thrives in conditions of poverty, it thrives on stigma, and in situations of unequal gender relations.

It also thrives on destructive behaviour, the abuse of alcohol and drugs, and unsafe sex.

It is therefore up to all of us, collectively and as individuals, to take responsibility for our own health and that of others.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Our theme for this World AIDS Day is ‘Rise. Act. Protect.’

As a nation, we must rise to this challenge, determined and committed and confident that we can succeed.

As a people, and as individuals, we must act to inform, to support and to encourage. No action is too small. No contribution is wasted.

We must protect ourselves and those who are nearest to us.

We must protect the vulnerable.

We must combat stigma and create an environment in which all can feel comfortable to test and be treated.

World AIDS Day serves as an important reminder that the epidemic is still with us and that we must do more to increase awareness and to eliminate prejudice.

To achieve greater success in our intervention strategies, we must focus on the local level and the everyday tasks of HIV prevention and treatment.

Today presents us with an opportunity to recognise, applaud and support the outstanding work of the country’s NGO sector and AIDS champions who work tirelessly to educate people about HIV and empower them to prevent, treat and manage it.

Because of their consistent work, today we speak with one voice and a single message that we can make HIV and AIDS history.

The Department of Health and the South African National Aids Council are committed to the UNAIDS Fast-Track approach of using innovative approaches informed by local knowledge and data to reach more people with comprehensive HIV prevention and treatment services.

To strengthen our national response, we have recently completed research on the impact and cost of an extensive range of known interventions against HIV and TB.

This research proposes an optimal package of services to reach the most important groups in controlling the two diseases.

It confirms that we are correct in our effort to significantly scale up our responses on both HIV and TB.

This means that we will need to invest substantially over the medium term, but that we will start to save money over the long term as our prevention efforts ensure that fewer people require treatment.

This research encourages us to redouble our efforts to ensure that by 2020, 90 percent of people living with HIV know their status, that 90 percent of them are on treatment, and that 90 percent of those on treatment have suppressed viral loads.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

In our response to HIV and TB, we are driven by hope and encouraged by progress.

We have invested massively in life-saving antiretrovirals, making our HIV treatment programme the biggest in the world.

South Africans are living longer and fewer people are dying of AIDS and TB.

We have significantly reduced mother-to-child transmission of HIV.

We are intensifying our efforts to end TB, particularly among high risk populations such as prison inmates, mineworkers and people living in communities near mines.

We are improving our programmes to control and treat multidrug-resistant TB, and more effectively integrating our national TB response with our HIV response.

Individually and collectively, we continue to inform, fight stigma and promote healthy lifestyles.

Despite our successes, we still face many challenges.

The number of new HIV infections is still extremely high, particularly among young women and girls.

We are told that more than 2,300 girls and young women between the ages of 15 and 24 become infected with HIV each week.

We theref mount a highly visible national campaign to decrease new HIV infections in this group.

While we have programmes to reduce new infections in this group, we need a highly-visible, nation-wide campaign to significantly reduce new infections in girls and young women.

The SANAC women’s, youth and men sectors must work with the relevant government departments to develop a comprehensive approach to prevention that we can launch early next year.

Through this campaign, we want to reduce new infections in this group by at least 30 percent over the next three years.

Kulamaqhawe ethu asemiphakathini alwa nengculaza, siyacela kakhulu ukuthi nisebenzisane nezingane zamantombazane.
[To our community AIDS champions, we urge you to work closely with our girl children]

Sibheke kuwo amantombazane ukuthi bayoba ngabaholi bakusasa.
[We look up our girls to lead our country in the future.]

Sibheke kwabesimame ukuba bakhe, basiphathele isizwe esiphumelelayo.
[We look up to women to build and guide a prosperous nation]

Uma owesimame enqaba ukuya ocansini nowesilisa ongasebenzisi ijazi lendoda (i-condom), uzivikela yena nowesilisa engculazeni.
[When a woman objects to sex with a male who does not use a condom, the woman is protecting herself as well as the man]

Uma owesilisa enendaba nempilo yakho uzoba nendaba ne-condom.
[If he cares about your wellbeing, he will take care to use a condom.]

Siyanicela nonke zingane zethu ukuba nibekezele, nihloniphe abazali, nifunde, nizohola izwe lethu. [We urge you all our children to be patient, to respect your parents, to get education so that you can lead our country.]

Ngokuziphatha kahle nizivikele nizoyinqoba ingculaza.
[Through responsible behaviour and by protecting yourselves, you will triumph over AIDS]

Programmes such as the ZAZI campaign, which seeks to empower young women, can promote self-confidence among our youth so that they can make positive choices.

We must equip young people with the tools to resist peer pressure, avoid teenage pregnancy, and define their own values that will secure them a healthy, prosperous future.

We need to spread the word about prevention, encouraging all sexually-active South Africans to use condoms consistently.

We all have a responsibility to encourage people to test for HIV and TB.

We call upon men in particular to avail themselves in their millions for free HIV-testing and counselling at our public health facilities.

Ukuhlola ukuthi awunayo ingculaza kubalulekile.
[It’s important to test for HIV]

Sikhuthaza kakhulu abesilisa ukuthi nabo abaye emitholampilo nasezibhedlela ukuyohlola.
[We encourage men to go to clinics and hospitals to get tested]

We join His Majesty King Goodwill Zwelithini and our traditional leaders in encouraging men to undergo safe male circumcision.

Even when you are circumcised, you should still use a condom to increase your protection and that of your partner.

We need to ensure that all those who need treatment, receive treatment and that they remain on treatment.

We shall not overcome this epidemic unless all of us accept that we have a responsibility.

We have a responsibility as government and its employees, as every sector of civil society, as communities, as religious institutions, as youth groups, and as sports and music idols.

In our personal lives, in our own behaviour, we also have a responsibility.

We have a responsibility as parents, spouses, partners, girlfriends and boyfriends, mentors and role models.

We have a responsibility to ourselves.

We have a responsibility to others.

As we commemorate World AIDS Day, let us work harder in all our communities and with the determination to secure an AIDS-free South Africa and an AIDS-free world.

It is time to ‘Rise. Act. Protect’.

Masisukume. Masenze kangcono. Masizivikele.

Ngiyabonga.
I thank you.

For more about The Presidency, refer to www.thepresidency.gov.za.

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