The only way to beat HIV is and will remain prevention

I was recently interviewed on the British World Radio Service on the state of the nation in so far as HIV-Aids is concerned.

I was recently interviewed on the British World Radio Service on the state of the nation in so far as HIV-Aids is concerned.

"What should be the three priority areas for the people and government of South Africa as we approach International World Aids Day?"

I responded without hesitation. "Prevention, prevention, prevention!" I screamed.

This assertion by no means seeks to diminish the importance of treatment, care and support for people living with HIV-Aids.

But I religiously believe prevention is of paramount importance if we collectively share the vision of our great-grandchildren ever dwelling in a world that is free from this incurable infection.

First and foremost, prevention is the one strategy that cuts across all sectors of our society.

For people living with HI, prevention is one of the crucial behavioural aspects that can determine whether or not one can lead a productive and successful life.

It is especially imperative that those who are on antiretroviral treatment adhere to this philosophy because there is a great danger of re-infection or cross-infection that can render this form of treatment ineffective at most and critically resistant at worst.

So people living with HIV cannot compromise their wellbeing by being sexually reckless as we struggle to prolong the lives of those already infected.

Secondly, prevention is crucial to ensure that those who are HIV negative remain so for as long as possible or for their entire lifetimes.

In other words, we have to honour and highlight the role of those who have ensured that they protect themselves and their loved one's throughout their lives.

Most importantly, prevention is equally important in dealing with mother-to-child transmission.

As you know, most regrettably, millions of our children are infected with HIV at birth and most of those vulnerable not only grow up without parents but also lose their own lives prematurely.

The collective effect and the cost of such losses at a personal, family and institutional level is immeasurable.

The price of losing an innocent child because of one's uncontrollable sexual indiscretion is unthinkable.

Those of us who are considered to be veterans of the struggle for life against HIV-Aids, the long-term survivors, the common factor is that we have ensured that our commitment to protecting ourselves and our loved one's is unwavering.

In simpler terms, as I have maintained over many years, sex without protection is unnatural.

Having said all that, I do believe our messages also need to be more inclined towards practice as opposed to nakedly passive ones, such as abstain and be faithful.

While this strategy sounds theoretically appealing or ideal, a reality check implies that it remains a distant dream.

On a daily basis, research informs us that our children are becoming sexually active at a much younger age than ever before. So why are we choosing to bury our infected heads in the sand?

There is absolutely no compromising.

Prevention is the way to go.