Awareness programs help stem HIV/AIDS pandemic in S. Africa

Updated: 2012-07-26 09:48


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HIV/AIDS awareness programs have helped stem the HIV/AIDS pandemic in South Africa, which has the highest infection rate in sub-Saharan Africa, a newly released survey shows.

The programs have promoted a significant change in behavior which includes the use of condoms, HIV counselling, testing and voluntary male circumcision, according to the 3rd South African National HIV Communication Survey (NCS), conducted by Johns Hopkins Health and Education in South Africa, LoveLife and Soul city.

From 1992 to 2012, condom use at first sex increased from 18 percent to 66 percent, a change that was attributed to condom promotion and the increased availability of condoms, the survey shows.

A HIV counselling and testing campaign led by President Jacob Zuma, Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe and Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi also encouraged more people to take blood testing. In the last 12 months alone, 10.6 million South Africans had been tested, the survey says.

Zuma himself took an HIV test in public in 2010, and later disclosed his status, as part of the "I am Responsible" campaign.

A male circumcision campaign also led to more than 50 percent of South African men being circumcised. Just under 1 million men intended to be circumcised in the next 12 months, according to the survey, conducted between February and May.

The survey was released to coincide the ongoing 19th International AIDS Conference in Washington DC.

South Africa has been commended for its achievements in combatting HIV/AIDS. Among the achievements are 1.7 million people being placed on treatment; 20 million people having tested for HIV during the country's long testing campaign; and the decline of mother to child transmission from 8 percent in 2008 to 3.5 percent in 2010 and to 2.7 percent in 2011, according to official figures announced at the conference.