Radebe announces plan on pandemic at world event
When Musa Njoko disclosed her HIV-positive status some years ago, she was discriminated against.
But when 34-year-old Siphokazi Redman publicly disclosed she was HIV positive yesterday at the Kingsmead Stadium in Durban, hundreds of people stood up and clapped, admiring her courage.
Indeed things have changed.
Hundreds of people had gathered to mark the international candlelight memorial held around the world every second Sunday of May.
Acting Minister of Health Jeff Radebe and MEC for health in KwaZulu-Natal Peggy Nkonyeni led the candlelight ceremony to remember those affected and infected by HIV-Aids.
Redman did exactly what this year's theme required: "Lead the way to a world without Aids."
She took to the stage and disclosed her HIV status.
Redman from Mzimkhulu in KwaZulu-Natal told the story of her life, how she discovered her status nine years ago and her journey on antiretroviral treatment .
"When I took my HIV test, I was so sure it would come out negative. I was so sure of myself. To my surprise it came out positive," said Redman.
She said being HIV positive was not a death sentence. She said with free treatment and a foundation of a healthy eating habit, one could live for many years.
She said when she started her antiretroviral treatment in 2005 she became very ill from the side effects. That was history now, she said.
Like other incurable diseases, with HIV-Aids you have to take your treatment every day, without fail, for the rest of your life.
Redman said the stigma associated with HIV-Aids had subsided when compared with nine years ago.
"The government is providing the antiretrovirals for free. To those who are not infected, please take care of yourselves," she said.
Radebe announced a national strategic plan on HIV-Aids for 2007 to 2011, which would serve as a framework for the country's response to major challenges of the disease.
"The aim is to achieve a 50percent reduction in the rate of new infections and provide an appropriate package of treatment, care and support services to at least 80percent of people living with HIV-Aids and their families by 2011," he said.
The plan had been finalised and already adopted by the Cabinet and the South African National Aids Council, said Radebe.
"To address the challenges of drug resistance to both tuberculosis and HIV-Aids treatments, which is a major challenge to us and many other countries, we should encourage people who are on HIV-Aids or TB treatment to adhere to their regimen," he said.