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Health officials in Mpumalanga province say they are stepping up the fight against HIV/AIDS in local communities. They want people to get tested and treated as soon as possible.
“Knowing status early allows timely medical help,” said Health MEC Sasekani Manzini. She said the province has set a goal for 95% of residents with HIV to know if they have the virus. So far, over 700,000 people have been tested.
But MEC Manzini said some folks remain “afraid or ignorant” about getting results. She encourages everyone, especially men, to get checked. Patients who test positive can start medications right away instead of waiting.
“Treatment as Prevention aims to identify and treat HIV-positive individuals to reduce community transmission,” the MEC explained. She said over 590,000 HIV-positive people currently get antiretroviral medications (ARVs) in Mpumalanga.
Some programs now allow patients to pick up multiple months of pills at once. This makes life easier for those on lifelong treatment. Around 40,000 men also got circumcised this year, which can reduce infection risk by 60%.
MEC Manzini said education and busting stigma are also key. “We must foster an environment of compassion, empathy, and acceptance,” she stated.
At Thursday’s World AIDS Day event, officials asked all citizens to stand together. “It is a day to reflect on the progress made and the challenges that lie ahead,” said Manzini. “Together, we can achieve a future where no one lives in fear of HIV/AIDS.”