The Local Aids Council (LAC) of the Msukaligwa was resurrected this month in response to the high prevalence of HIV-infection in the Gert Sibande district.
This municipal district has the highest number of HIV infections in South Africa and the Msukaligwa municipal sub-district is determined to change this. The Msukaligwa LAC has not been functioning since 2011.
Mayor Sipho Bongwe, who is also chairperson of the LAC said: “As politicians we have influential positions that can help to win people.” He also said that it was important for politicians be actively involved in all the campaigns that the LAC embarked on in order to attract community members to fully participate in the campaigns.
The Msukaligwa LAC is aligned with the National Strategic Plan goals for 2016. According to newly appointed Msukaligwa HIV-Aids co-ordinator Ntombizonke Sibanyoni the LAC is determined to reduce the high HIV prevalence in the district and contribute to the NSP goals.
The LAC has a responsibility to co-ordinate the process of engagement between government, civil society and business in their responses to HIV-Aids in the municipality.
Kholofetso Kganane from Sexual HIV Prevention Programme (SHIPP) said: “As partners in the LAC we want to make a positive contribution, we will be providing training to capacitate members of the LAC and strengthen the LAC to function better.”
Another responsibility of the LAC is to facilitate the function of the Ward Aids committees.
Thenjiwe Ngwenya ward 15 councillor said: “Having ward aids committees will help us understand what is happening in communities regarding HIV/Aids and what we need to do moving forward.”
Community based organisations like the Traditional Healers Organisation is part of the LAC. One of the traditional healers said: “We are excited to be a part of the LAC as we were sidelined before.”