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South Africa: Opportunity for HIV Prevention That Works

March 11, 2011

South Africa’s HIV/AIDS National Strategic Plan for health has two objectives – reducing the incidence of new HIV infections by half and placing 80% of those in need onto anti-retroviral treatment. As a country, we are making some progress in scaling up our national HIV treatment programmes, but concurrently we need to maintain the status of those that are HIV negative.

Over 95% of grade 8 to 12 learners are HIV negative. Although not preventative, testing for HIV in secondary schools presents a significant opportunity for establishing a culture of knowing your status, allowing for the enforcement of a healthy lifestyle. Yes, there are many concerns, but let us focus on addressing the concerns by involving learners and their parents in the design and implementation of any school health and HIV testing programme, rather than lose this opportunity. By instilling healthy habits and regular HIV testing amongst our teens of today and at an early age, we have a better chance of reducing new HIV infections amongst our adults of the future.

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South Africa: Opportunity for HIV Prevention That Works

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