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Progress and challenges as World Aids Day is marked

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Progress and challenges as World Aids Day is marked


It is World Aids Day and in South Africa, said to have the biggest HIV epidemic on the planet, efforts continue to stop its spread with condoms being handed out on the street.

The country already has the world’s biggest treatment programme and plans to spend more on life-saving drugs.

But activists from the TAC group want to reduce infections in the first place.

“Most people now…they don’t use condoms, so it is a problem because we don’t keep promoting prevention,” lamented the group’s Women’s Representative Portia Serote. “All we talk about is people getting on treatment. But we are not encouraging people anymore to stay negative, so that is where the problem is.”

In 2013, 35 million people were living with HIV worldwide. The World Health Organisation has seen a drop in new infections and in the numbers dying of AIDS but outreach work is needed.

“There are also challenges, and specifically in people, in populations that are most vulnerable at the greatest risk for contracting HIV,” said Dr Gottfried Hirnschall, Director of the WHO’s Department for HIV.“These are men who have sex with men, sex workers and their clients, and also injecting drugs users. These are people that do not have the same access as others.”

One leading campaign group says the world has reached “the beginning of the end” of the AIDS pandemic that has infected and killed millions.

But the ONE campaign, an advocacy group working to end poverty and preventable disease in Africa, has warned against complacency, with massive efforts still needed to finally make HIV history.

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