S.Africa marks AIDS day with record ribbon

South Africa, home to the world's largest HIV caseload, on Saturday unveiled a 1.5 kilometre AIDS ribbon in Johannesburg, with activists and officials pledging to curb the epidemic.

Created from over 6,000 red T-shirts pinned together, the ribbon was rolled out at Constitution Hill, which houses the country's Constitutional Court, and unfurled through the streets of Braamfontein.

The ribbon, beating a record previously held by India, is seen as a "visual symbol of the country's commitment to eradicating HIV/AIDS" in a country where six of the 51.8 million inhabitants live with the virus.

"Because of this event we are going to get more awareness," said one of the organisers, Amanda Blankfield of Afrika Tikkun, a health and education NGO.

Organisers of the AIDS event will submit to the for verification.

Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe said South Africa was on the right path.

"I can confidently say that the journey towards an AIDS-free world has begun, and South Africa is definitely on the right path," he said in a speech marking World AIDS Day in the northwestern town of Potchefstroom.

Despite being home to the world's largest population of people living with HIV and its biggest consumer of anti-retroviral (ARV) drugs, about a fifth of the world market, South Africa is still battling with stigma around the disease.

"The murder of gay men and lesbians, acts of violence such as so-called 'corrective rapes' are a violation of the rights of others and must be condemned in the strongest possible terms," Motlanthe said.

On Thursday Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi announced South Africa had used its massive market share to negotiate a record-low price on a three-in-one, fixed-dose , to be rolled out in April next year.

The once-a-day tablet will cost patients 89.37 rand a month ($10, eight euros), the world's lowest ever for the regimen.

The government plans to expand the treatment to reach 2.5 million people in the next two years.

South Africa once refused to roll out ARVs under former president Thabo Mbeki, whom activists have condemned as an " denialist".

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

South Africa unveils plan to halve HIV infections

Dec 01, 2011

President Jacob Zuma on Thursday unveiled a plan to halve the number of HIV infections over the next five years, cementing South Africa's turnaround from years of deadly denialism.

UN sees 'massive' fall in South Africa AIDS cases

Jan 19, 2012

South Africa, home to the highest number of HIV cases in the world, should see a massive reduction by the end of the decade after a sea-change in government policy, a UNAIDS official said Thursday.

S. African to double HIV patient treatment

Dec 14, 2010

(AP) -- South Africa's health minister says he has brought down the cost of HIV drugs by 53 percent, enabling the government to treat twice as many patients in the next two years.

Resignation of SA health minister sought

Sep 06, 2006

Pressure is mounting on South Africa's Health Minister to resign for suggesting garlic, lemons and African potatoes as alternative HIV treatment.

Recommended for you

Condoms 'too small' for Uganda men

2 hours ago

Ugandan MPs have been inundated with complaints that many condoms on sale in the east African nation are too small, warning the problem is a blow to the fight against AIDS.

Withdrawal from the evolutionary race

22 hours ago

In some HIV sufferers, the immune system does not fight off the immune deficiency virus. Instead, the body tolerates the pathogen. A research team headed by ETH Zurich has now determined how strongly patients ...

The genetics of coping with HIV

Sep 16, 2014

We respond to infections in two fundamental ways. One, which has been the subject of intensive research over the years, is "resistance," where the body attacks the invading pathogen and reduces its numbers. Another, which ...

User comments