South Africa: Government on second day of 21st International Aids Conference

Remarkable progress has been made in reducing the rate of growth in new HIV infections – the virus that causes Aids.

Better education, the availability of drugs that fight the spread of the virus and the prevention of HIV transmission to newborn babies have all played a role.

But it is proving stubborn to get rid of.

As South Africa hosts a major HIV-Aids conference. Below is the press release on the conference issued by Government Communications of South Africa.

PRESS RELEASE

South African Government statement on day 2 of the 21st International Aids Conference

A ceremony marking the start of construction on a state-of-the-art condom factory at Dube Trade Port near Durban’s King Shaka International Airport was one of the highlights of South Africa’s participation on day two of the 21ST International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2016).

The conference, which was officially opened last night by Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, has attracted around 18 000 delegates from 183 countries to this event which is hosted by the International AIDS Society every two years. This is the foremost global forum on HIV, AIDS and TB, bringing together governments, the scientific community, civil society, business, the development funding community and people living with HIV.

The R150 million condom factory project, which was launched near King Shaka International Airport, will create 145 jobs, with one of the production lines dedicated to the new Max brand of condoms with which government has replaced the Choice product.

A further highlight on day two was the opening of the South African exhibition stand at the Conference Expo by Minister Jeff Radebe, Chair of the South African Inter-Ministerial Committee tasked with South Africa’s hosting of the event.

The South African display features the significant progress made in the national response to HIV, AIDS and TB.

Minister of Science and Technology Ms Naledi Pandor participated in a panel discussion on why young women in Africa have a high rate of HIV infection.

Researchers from across the globe presented multiple studies conducted to provide in-depth knowledge and understanding of the analysis on the HIV transmission viral among young women. One of the studies presented analysed the genetic HIV code and revealed a cycle of transmission driven by high rates of new infections. Other studies unpacked the role of vaginal bacteria in HIV risk among young women.

Director of the Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa Salim S. Abdool Karim highlighted the cycle of HIV transmission and the challenge of men with high viral loads in their 30s exposing young women to HIV infection.

The South African government also announced the launch of self-service medicine dispensing machines which could soon see South Africans obtaining their medication from self-service ATM-style machines.

The announcement was made by the South African Ministry of Health today as one of the breakthroughs for the country. The Pharmacy Dispensing Unit (PDU), currently being piloted at Thembalethu clinic in Johannesburg, is a self-service machine where patients can obtain their medication in the same way people withdraw money at an ATM, a process that most South African are familiar with.

To use the machine, all a patient needs to do is register for the service, after which they receive a smart card. To “withdraw” their medication, users simply insert their card into the PDU machine, enter their PIN and select the medication they require from their prescription list.

The machine immediately dispenses the selected medication, eliminating the need for the patient to wait in queues. The PDU also allows patients to communicate directly with a trained pharmacist directly from the machine using a built-in video conferencing function.

The final engagement the day was the panel discussion of the South African government in partnership with UNAIDS and other development partners including PEPFAR. The stakeholders engaged on “Financing the Aids” response in South Africa.

The session was attended by Minister of Health Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, Executive Director of UNAIDS Mr Michel Sidibe, Global AIDS Coordinator in the United States, Ms Deborah Birx and Executive Director of the Global Fund Dr Mark Dybul amongst others.

The South African Government, the United States President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief and the Global Fund are jointly tracking and analysing expenditure to facilitate the smooth coordination of donor-supported programmes.

 

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