During a meeting with UNAIDS Executive Director, Michel Sidibé, the Premier of KwaZulu Natal, Dr Zweli Mkhize highlighted that progress made in the province has begun to turn around the AIDS epidemic in the South African Province which has been most affected by HIV.
KwaZulu Natal has made remarkable progress in expanding access to antiretroviral treatment as well as in reducing new HIV infections. From 2011 to the beginning of 2013 more than 300 000 men have undergone medical male circumcision decreasing their risk of HIV infection. Although it remains high, the overall HIV prevalence among 15-24 years old dropped from 31% in 2009 to 25.5% in 2011.
Mr Sidibé applauded the Premier for his personal vision and leadership in the implementation of decentralised HIV prevention, treatment and care programmes that have yielded visible results. He noted that, if current efforts are expanded, KwaZulu Natal can be on-track to reach the targets set out in the 2011 United Nations General Assembly Political Declaration on HIV/AIDS.
Despite these gains, KwaZulu Natal remains South Africa's most affected province with an antenatal HIV prevalence of more than 40% in two of its districts and more than 1.6 million people living with HIV in 2011.
According to Mr Sidibé, if South Africa is to achieve real progress, the national AIDS response should continue with its current approach of integrating political and traditional leadership, scientific researchers and active engagement of communities.
If KwaZulu Natal, the most affected province in South Africa, can continue to quicken the pace of progress and replicate the successes they are seeing in stopping new HIV infections in children, we can be sure that Africa will be well on the way to ending the AIDS epidemic.
- Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of UNAIDS
We turned the tide in KwaZulu Natal. When it comes to AIDS we moved from fear, death and despair to hope and aspiration. The people we reached are the living proof of this success story.
- Dr Zweli Mkhize, Premier of the KwaZulu Natal Province