South Africa dreams of having an Aids free generation. This was a message by Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa when he launched the countdown to the 2016 International Aids Conference, to be held in Durban, next week.
The five day countdown was launched on Wednesday.
It was at the International Aids Conference in 2000 in Durban, where the late Nkosi Johnson captured world attention to the pandemic. He was born with HIV, and died in 2001.
Today, Nkosi's Haven hosts about 20 orphans, whose parents died from the pandemic. Though provision of free medicines reduced the mortality rate, government still endeavors to achieve more.
"We are working to bring the HIV/Aids disease to an end. In 14 years we want to have an HIV free generation," says Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi.
The Deputy President paid tribute to Nkosi Johnson for his courageous role. "Since his fight to be admitted to school in 1997 and his memorable address at the Aids conference in Durban in 2000, we have made many strides as a country to fight discrimination against people living with HIV, to roll out free ARV treatment, and to reduce mother to child transmission," says Ramaphosa.
But, the country had a slow response to HIV/Aids pandemic between 1998 and 2004- a journey plagued by legal battles.
The Treatment Action Campaign (TRC) dragged government to the courts for failing to provide treatment.
The 21st International Conference is going back to Durban. Researchers claim there are 2000 new infections in the province, every week, young women between the ages of 15 and 24 being the most vulnerable to older men.
"If they have sex with men five more years older than them then they are at risk of getting infected is higher. Young women are also at the receiving end of gender-based violence at its most extreme form," says Prof Quarraisha Abdool-Kaim from Centre for the Aids Programme of Research in South Africa (Caprisa).
Meanwhile, AIDS activist Gugu Dlamini has also been honoured in Durban. Dlamini was killed by community members in 1998, after revealing her HIV status. Her house has been turned into a museum.
The 21st International AIDS Conference kicks off in Durban on Monday.
Source: Nam News Network