To commemorate World AIDS Day on 1 December, the Siyaphila (Wellness) Team at Blue Moon supported employees by offering HIV/AIDS testing and counselling on site. This is done annually at Blue Moon, as knowing your status is the most important first step to addressing HIV. As well as testing and counselling, candles were lit and a minute of silence observed for those lost to HIV/AIDS.
There has been progress in lowering the impact of HIV/AIDS over the last 10 years:
- For the first time since the advent of AIDS, the number of people on antiretroviral treatment exceeds the number of people eligible and waiting.
- In sub-Saharan Africa, where the epidemic has had its most devastating impact, AIDS-related deaths have fallen as record numbers of people now have access to the life-saving medicines.
- Globally fewer children are being born with HIV.
- The rate of new HIV infections has also decreased in most parts of the world.
In South Africa, HIV/AIDS still has a massive effect on people, families and communities.
- Only 29% of South Africans know how HIV is spread. This means that 71% of South Africans are at risk of contracting the virus.
- Two out of three people don’t know their status. What you don’t know, you can’t treat.
- There are 6 000 new infections daily in South Africa – that is over two million new infections every year.
- On average, 300 000 people die of AIDS-related illnesses every year and the impact of this is that there are over 1.5 million AIDS orphans, and hundreds of thousands of child-headed homes and children relying on retired and elderly grandparents.
These factors have a massive impact on the economy and the future of South Africa. The message reiterated at Blue Moon around World AIDS Day is: Know your status and be safe and healthy – 365 days a year.