Thousands of South Africans including traditional healers, senior government officials and church leaders united at the Sahara Stadium to commemorate World AIDS Day and encourage each other in the struggle against the epidemic.
bserving a moment of silence at noon today, South Africans countrywide also recommitted to the fight against HIV and AIDS and remembered those who have died from the disease.
Speaking at the national World AIDS Day event in Durban, Minister of Health, Barbara Hogan said it was significant for all South Africans to fight HIV and AIDS, adding that discussing the impact of the virus among other things would create a sense of awareness among South Africans.
She urged all South Africans to take the issue of HIV and AIDS seriously and not to undermine or discriminate against infected individuals.
Traditional healers (izingoma), who attended the event dressed in their colourful traditional gear, prayed together asking their African ancestors to help in the struggle against HIV and AIDS.
Through the theme "Stop HIV and AIDS", various stakeholders observed the event as a means to showcase key messages of prevention, treatment, care and support.
The theme was a call to action for all individuals, civil society, partners and government to take the lead in responding to the fight against HIV and AIDS.
Minister Hogan said the event was a demonstration of the multi-sectoral response to a common cause.
"HIV and AIDS can be prevented if we stand together and respect ourselves and others," the minister said.
The overall commemoration was to promote greater public awareness and participation on all matters related to HIV and AIDS, including voluntary testing by individuals, Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission (PMTCT), and active participation in comprehensive care, treatment and management programmes.
Premier of KwaZulu-Natal Sibusiso Ndebele further said by keeping HIV and AIDS at the forefront of national consciousness, the concepts of prevention, treatment, care and support were most prevalent.
"Through this event, both government and civil society were called upon to take the initiative and provide leadership on HIV and AIDS," he said.
The event was also a continuation of the ongoing messages for every South African to take the lead in the response to HIV and AIDS by knowing their status, encouraging the negative to remain negative.
The premier said the event further aims to encourage the youth to delay the onset of their sexual debut and also encourage mutual faithfulness to one partner and correct and consistent use of condoms.
At the event, the national Red Ribbon was also launched by Deputy President Baleka Mbete, church leaders and other senior government officials.
The 2000 metres of red ribbon was a tangible demonstration of what can be achieved when people from different backgrounds and communities combine efforts and skills to show that they can work together for a common cause.
South Africans across the country wrote pledges and commitments on donated red cloth which ultimately formed the national ribbon.
The World AIDS Day was a resounding success in creating a greater level of public awareness and education around HIV and AIDS while providing tangible services. - BuaNews