Head of the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health Dr Sibongile Zungu has announced drastic moves by Government aimed at curbing the spread of HIV and AIDS and its impact in the province.
Speaking at a two-day event near the KwaMashu hostel, Dr Zungu said that since 1 January 2015, following an announcement by National Health Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, the department had begun administering Anti-Retrovial drugs to HIV people with a CD-4 Count of 500.
Previously, HIV positive patients were initiated on ARVs when their CD4 Count had dropped to 350.
“This new approach has an immeasurably positive impact because what it means is that people will get to live longer and have a better quality of life. Ultimately, this augurs well for the nation and the country’s economy as a whole,” she said.
The two-day KwaMashu event, which was held at Mbelebeleni Royal Palace and was aimed at bringing health services to the people, saw more than 1500 KwaMashu hostel dwellers and other residents accessing various health services, while 99 men and boys underwent Medical Male Circumcision.
The campaign included two Mobile Hospitals; one for Primary Health Care and another for Medical Male Circumcision. Services on offer included Medical Male Circumcision, HIV Counselling and Testing, treatment of minor illnesses, reproductive health, eye testing, oral health and rehabilitative care.
Dr Zungu thanked the community of KwaMashu for being proactive in taking advantage of the health care services offered to them.
“As the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health, we are encouraged by the warm reception by residents of KwaMashu Hostel, and how interested they are in their own health and the health of others. The support and cooperation which they have shown is a strong sign of social cohesion that needs to be encouraged as it can clearly go a long way towards ensuring that the dream of an HIV-free generation is realised.
“As we are aware of the linkage between HIV, AIDS and TB and how these diseases have affected communities, their cooperation with the Department is pivotal and encouraging because the Department cannot win this war alone.”
Dr Zungu also paid tribute to King Goodwill Zwelithini for spearheading the introduction of Medical Male Circumcision in KwaZulu-Natal as a strategy to curb the spread of HIV and AIDS.
She said that as part of efforts to confront the impact of HIV head-on and curb its spread, the department had to date recruited 904 278 people under its Anti-Retroviral Treatment programme, which is one of the highest in the country.
Dr Zungu said while Government offers FREE condoms, FREE Medical Male Circumcision and FREE contraceptives, the Department is appealing on all people – whether they are circumcised men or women on contraceptives – to make condoms a non-negotiable.
“Medical Male Circumcision lessens the chances of HIV and Sexual Transmitted infections (STI’s) by 60 percent. And contraceptives only protect against pregnancy. BUT you can still get HIV or Sexually Transmitted Infections if you do not use protection. Also, many couples begin by using condoms, but after a period of time, when they feel that they “trust” each other, they stop using condoms.
“Unfortunately, trust has little to do with whether a partner is already infected with an STI. If either you or your partner has ever been with another partner, there is a possibility that one of you may be infected with an STI. It is best to continue to use dual protection until you have both been tested. Therefore, Dual Protection is the only answer,” she said.
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SOURCE: SOUTH AFRICAN OFFICIAL NEWS