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With World AIDS Day being observed tomorrow, the DA in the Western Cape would like to encourage all residents to get tested and know their status.
According to the 2019 Rapid Review of the Burden of Disease, approximately 1 in 10 people between the ages of 15- and 49-years-old are living with HIV, with HIV prevalence in women being almost double that in men.
This means that HIV/AIDS – along with TB – remains one of the highest causes of early death in the Western Cape.
HIV is a virus that targets a person’s immune system and gradually prevents it from being able to protect your body from infections. It is mostly transmitted through sexual intercourse, but is also spread through pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding, and even infected blood.
Taking this into account, we have seen a worrying picture transpire. Between the financial years of 2017/18 and 2021/22:
While HIV positive tests fell from 47 397 to 23 301, fewer tests have been taken;
Persons starting antiretroviral treatment (ART) fell from 45 491 to 24 230, with those remaining on ARTs falling from 3 571 to 2 454; and
Total condoms distributed decreased from 117 018 900 to 65 155 252.
Owing to these figures, it is of the utmost importance that one gets regularly tested in order to protect both yourself and others. Those who seek more clarity and information can call 0800 012 322 – the HIV/AIDS toll-free helpline.
Let us spend tomorrow recognising that despite the impact this disease has a one’s life, one can still live a happy and fulfilling life. This, however, requires us practise safe and healthy lifestyle choices.
Issued by Wendy Kaizer-Philander, MPP - DA Western Cape Spokesperson on Health