Activists say young people must actively play their part to ensure an HIV/Aids free generation by 2030.
They were speaking at the Gauteng province’s official event to commemorate World Aids Day, in Sebokeng, on Friday.
The Gauteng Aids Council, alongside the MEC for Health Nomantu Nkomo-Ralehoko, observed the day under the theme “Let communities lead.”
This year’s celebrations were aimed at recognising the all-important contributions of communities in fighting the HIV/Aids epidemic.
Last year, South Africa had the highest number of AIDS related deaths in the world with more than 40 000 people succumbing to the virus.
Latest research also shows that while the prevalence of HIV is declining, there are some worrying patterns regarding the age group between the ages of 25 and 49 years. Among females, HIV prevalence was highest in ages 35 to 39 years at 34.2%, whereas among males, HIV prevalence was highest in ages 45 to 49 years at 27.1%.
Scientists also say there is reason for concern about the increased incidence of HIV infection among adolescent girls aged 15 to 19, which they believe is proof that older men engage in unprotected sexual activities with girls and young women.
As a result, activist Monwabisi Mbasa is urging young people not be caught napping and know their status.
The Health Department has on the other hand called on the youth to practice safe sex as the festive season draws closer.
And while the culture of casual sex and substance abuse can’t be solved overnight, Dr Nozuko Mkabayi says young people can still avoid HIV infection if they get treatment at least 72 hours after exposure.
Nearly 18% of Gauteng residents are HIV positive.
Organisers say it’s important for those living with HIV to know they can still live healthy and fulfilling lives, as long as they are taking their ARV treatment. Article by Naomi Kobbie
Written by: Lindiwe Mabena