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INTENSIFYING OUR FIGHT AGAINST HIV/AIDS BY REMAINING AT THE FOREFRONT

From the 20 to the 23 of June 2023, the 11th South African AIDS conference was held at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre in Durban, KwaZulu Natal. Leaders in the field, including government officials, scientists, civil society, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), traditional leaders, researchers, social activist, people living with HIV, program implementers, policymakers and people from all walks of life came together “to act, connect, and learn from one another to End The Epidemic.” The conference reviewed and reflected on progress made in addressing the HIV/ AIDS and TB epidemics during COVID-19. Bringing the HIV community together under the same roof, post-COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, was intended to facilitate discussion on the next steps towards an AIDS-free generation by 2030. 

It was a privilege for us as Humana People to People in South Africa to participate in the conference, as we are at the forefront in the fight against HIV/AIDS. Mohammed Matovu and Lebohang Rikhotso, TCE Program managers attended the event. Our program managers took part in different engagements in the conference about status quo of HIV in South Africa and what is needed to be done to make sure that by 2030 the HIV free generation is realised. During the conference, HPPSA also gained a lot of insight into ways to improve its TCE program and contribute more to the HIV/AIDS battle in South Africa. As part of the conference, the Minister of Health Joe Phaahla participated in the closing ceremony that ended the three-day-long engagement on HIV/AIDS, TB, and STIs. 

Highlights of the conference includes; 

  1. Activists from Uganda Solidarity urged President Ramaphosa to denounce Museveni’s approval of the anti-homosexuality law. 
  2. An acknowledgement of the decriminalization of sex work in SA, following the explanation by one of Sisonke’s beneficiary, on how sex workers’ lives have been affected by the criminalization of their work. 
  3. Prior to the AIDS conference, TCE program managers participated in the Love Picketing Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights Campaign on the 20th of June. 
  4. The SANAC Civil Society Forum called for an end to stigma and discrimination in health services. 

Throughout its existence, Humana People to People in South Africa has actively promoted HIV/AIDS awareness, offered HIV testing and counselling services in hard-to-reach areas, and encouraged people to know their status. Through our Total Control of the Epidemic (TCE) program, we have linked people to HIV treatment and care and have driven the 95 95 95 initiative into reality in five provinces. Currently, our TCE program is active in Limpopo and KwaZulu Natal (Zululand), providing HIV education and services to sex workers so that they can take control of their lives. 

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