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2008-08-04: Joburg AIDS agenda caring for people and the city

THE HIV and AIDS epidemic has affected every South African and we can expect that the rate of infection will stabilize in the next few years if measures to combat the disease are put in place.

Following the establishment and the launch of the City of Johannesburg (CoJ) AIDS Council by the Executive Mayor, Councillor Amos Masondo in November 2001, the AIDS Council has continuously provided support and assistance in the implementation of programmes in the fight against the HIV and AIDS epidemic.

Masondo chairs the Johannesburg AIDS Council (JAC). JAC includes all the members of the Mayoral Committee, representatives of groups such as youth, women, faith organizations, People Living with HIV and AIDS, academic institutions, sports bodies and the media. The JAC is similar to the national and provincial AIDS Councils. They all provide advice to government with regards to HIV and AIDS and on how to mobilize stakeholders' resources.   

JAC recently held a Workshop at the Parktonian Hotel in Braamfontein to highlight the work done by the City of Johannesburg with regards to HIV and AIDS, align CoJ HIV and AIDS programmes to the new National HIV and AIDS Strategic Plan 2007-2011, and advise on the HIV and AIDS programmes to be undertaken by CoJ. 

Leon Roets from the University of South Africa facilitated the Workshop. He made a presentation on the HIV and AIDS and Sexual Transmitted Infection Strategic Plan for South Africa 2007-2011. The primary aim of the National Strategic Plan (NSP) is to reduce the number of new HIV infections by 50% and also reduce the impact of HIV and AIDS on individuals, families, communities and society by expanding access to an appropriate package of treatment care and support to 80% of all people diagnosed with HIV.

After the presentation, JAC members were broken to four commissions to discuss the issues of national strategy plan further. The Commissions were to discuss and report back to the facilitator on Prevention Programme, Care and Treatment, support and Workplace HIV. 

Prevention programme
The commission highlighted that the HIV and AIDS pandemic could be tackled if the community could observe abstinence. The community fraternity should be encouraged to work together like churches, traditional people and various communities. It further indicated, as part of its programme, that there should be a comprehensive education drive for preventative measures against HIV and AIDS. The treatment of HIV and AIDS must also be done in conjunction with other sexual transmitted related diseases. The programme of treatment of HIV and AIDS must also be taken to vulnerable and high-risk people within the community as part of the strategy to prevent the spread of HIV and AIDS.

Care and treatment
On care and treatment, the Commission reported that voluntary counseling and training could be used as a form of care and treatment for people living with HIV and AIDS and those who need care. A system must be developed where the community on whether the services that are provided by the clinics and the hospitals were of good quality in terms of efficiency and effectiveness in dealing with care and treatment of people living with HIV and AIDS.

The commission reporting on support reported that the priority on support to people living with HIV and AIDS was that a support must be given to people through social package, by improving access of people living with HIV and AIDS to medical access, provision of training to people living with those affected with HIV and AIDS. The Commission as form of giving support to the people with HIV and AIDS stated that the government must mobiles resources through establishing partnerships with Non Governmental Organisations, Community Based Organisations and Private Sectors.

The Commission suggested that Workplace information must be made available to all peer groups through installing a kiosk where all the information concerning the diseases can be displayed.

In closing remarks, the Executive Mayor thanked all who had contributed during the Workshop. He further indicated that the City of Johannesburg would continue the tradition of cooperation with the stakeholders with regard to HIV and AIDS and related matters.