Written by Braimoh Bello
South Africa has done a lot to respond to the devastating impact of the HIV epidemic. Since 2010, the annual number of HIV infections has decreased by over 50%, from 400,000 to 190,000 in 2022. Also, the annual number of HIV-related deaths decreased by over 65% from about 160,000 in 2010 to 51,000 in 2022. But there is still a lot of work to be done. The 190,000 new infections in 2022 means that over 500 people are infected with HIV daily.
South Africa is currently developing the National Strategic Plan (NSP) for HIV, TB and STIs 2023–2028, which will be published in March 2023. The NSP is the country’s main document for the national response to HIV, TB and STIs, with the goal of ending AIDS as a public health threat by 2030. CESAR is providing monitoring and evaluation support for the NSP development.
To end AIDS as a public health threat, UNAIDS recommends that the annual number of new HIV infections should be reduced by 90% between 2010 and 2030. This means that by 2030, the annual number of new infections should be below 40,000 (it was 400,00 in 2010). While this is achievable, it will require significant efforts and investment. Top on the list of the needed measures is eliminating the inequalities that fuel the HIV epidemic. Hence the global theme of this year’s World AIDS Day is “Equalize”.
All hands need to be on deck to ensure that we eliminate the “dangerous inequalities” that spread HIV infections such as gender-based violence, stigma and discrimination associated with HIV, and educational and income disparities by sex, race and other groupings. We all have a role to play – individuals, government, businesses and civil society. As we celebrate World AIDS Day, we can all think about our needed contributions to ending the epidemic.
The South African National AIDS Council (SANAC) says, “Let’s work together.” UNAIDS says, “Equalize!”
Braimoh Bello is an epidemiologist and M&E specialist who provides consulting services to governments and organizations.