Remarks by the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Ms Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, on World AIDS Day, Nelspruit, Mpumalanga Province, 01 December 2012

Public Health officials;
Community members present;
Ladies and Gentlemen of the Media;

Today marks an important occasion on our national and international calendar.

World AIDS Day provides an opportunity to raise awareness relating to the prevention and treatment of HIV and AIDS.

President Zuma said on World AIDS Day in 2009 when launching government’s renewed efforts at combating the scourge of HIV and AIDS that:

  • this epidemic is not merely a health challenge; it is a challenge with profound social, cultural and economic consequences, and that
  • It is an epidemic that affects entire nations; yet it touches on matters that are intensely personal and private.

On this day, it is also important that we pay tribute to those members of our communities who work hard to educate, advocate, care, treat, prevent and break the stigma that is still attached to the epidemic.

Today, we need to send a message out there that HIV and AIDS can be defeated, but that this requires our efforts – individually and collectively. The solution is within us.

We must keep in mind that prevention is better than cure. As individuals, we must live healthy lifestyles and make responsible life choices.

We may come from different backgrounds and hold different beliefs, but this much we know: there is no cure for HIV. As a result, the HIV pandemic remains one of humanity’s greatest challenges. It requires a mind-set shift.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I came here today, on World AIDS Day, to encourage not only the local communities here, but also my fellow citizens across the length and breadth of South African to get tested for HIV as one of the ways in which we can defeat the scourge and the stigma attached to it.

I came here to also encourage men and women alike to lead healthy and responsible lifestyles.  The benefits of healthy lifestyles can prevent and delay the onset of non-communicable diseases (NCD’s), as well as management of other chronic health conditions.

Healthy lifestyles entail the following practical actions;

  • Eat healthy balanced meals - low in sugar, fat and salt.
  • Exercising (walk, run, dance, physical work) daily
  • Know your HIV status;
  • Sport in particular encourages active healthy development that protects and discourages youth from risky behaviours.

It is my sincere hope that my decision today to undertake a public HIV test will encourage men and women, irrespective of age, religion, colour, background, to follow suit.

One of the difficulties encountered in the fight against HIV and AIDS is that this pandemic is compounded by other health problems. You all know them: diabetes, TB, etc.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Government has singled out health as one of its key priorities, and a lot of energy and resources are being channelled towards ensuring that we improve our public healthcare system.

Before I conclude, I would like to stress that our fight against HIV and Aids should not be used to reinforce gender imbalances. Men and women carry equal responsibilities.

We have a responsibility as Government leaders to show the way, but you also need to take the initiative. In that way, working together, we can do much more.

We can and we must live up to our theme for World AIDS Day 2012: “Zero new HIV and TB infections”.

I thank you.

ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION

OR Tambo Building
460 Southpansberg Road
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