UNAIDS Executive Director says successes in the AIDS response should not result in complacency
03 June 2013
UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé and Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo, Member of the Executive Committee for Health in KwaZulu Natal met on 3 June on the side-lines of the UNAIDS/CAPRISA Symposium: Scientific advances from the ‘Mississippi baby’: Implications for public health programmes on mother to child transmission of HIV taking place in Durban, South Africa.
Mr Sidibé applauded the bold leadership that transformed the province from being the HIV epicentre in South Africa to an innovator in turning the epidemic around.
In recent years, KwaZulu Natal, through strong political commitment and effective HIV programmes, managed to ensure that more than 600 000 people in need of antiretroviral treatment had access in 2012, compared to just over 36 000 in 2005. The rate of mother-to-child transmission of HIV at six weeks declined to 2.1% in 2012 compared to 22% in 2005. The life expectancy in KwaZulu Natal has increased from 56.4 years in 2009 to 60 years in 2011, which is highly attributed to a decrease in AIDS-related deaths.
Dr Dhlomo said he was humbled by the recognition and support his province has been gaining for the successful outcomes in the AIDS response. He acknowledged that the government would need to invest more on HIV prevention services including behaviour and social change programmes. In 2012, the province spent 73% of HIV funds on treatment and care services and only 5% on preventing sexual transmission of HIV.
Political and traditional leadership have been brought together with scientific evidence to advance progress towards the end of the AIDS epidemic. This has resulted in a significant shift in KwaZulu Natal’s AIDS response over the last few years but it is no time for complacency.
With the emphasis on truly decentralised action with all stakeholders especially the mayors in all our municipalities, I have no doubt that we are getting closer to our targets. This is everybody’s business and the public health sector cannot do it alone.