Health minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi’€™s presentation yesterday followed President Jacob Zuma’€™s announcement on World AIDS Day last year that the fight against the HIV/AIDS pandemic would be scaled up in partnership with all stakeholders in the South African National AIDS Council.

The objectives of the scaled up plan are in line with the National Strategic Plan which aims to reduce the rate of infection by 50% by 2011 and to provide ARV treatment to 80% of those who need the treatment.

A   Cabinet statement said more emphasis would be placed on prevention through information, education, widespread distribution of condoms and mobilisation of millions of South Africans to know their status.    

The highlights of the new implementation plan will include voluntary and public HIV/AIDS testing which will be led by members of Cabinet and other leaders from broader society; and a move from voluntary counselling and testing (VCT) to HIV Counselling and Testing (HCT), a service delivery model that offers testing to all patients at the entry points in all health institutions.

The target of the HCT campaign is to test up to 15 million people by June 2011. The campaign will also promote healthy lifestyles and increase access to treatment, care and support. All public health facilities, fixed and mobile, will be equipped to offer HIV Testing and to provide ARTs, the Cabinet statement said.

Retired and non-practising medical staff such as doctors, nurses, and pharmacists have been requested in a national advertising campaign to make themselves available to the health system to support this initiative.

Motsoaledi has already written letters to all retired and non-practicing practitioners appealing to them to support the campaign.

The new HIV and AIDS implementation plan will be launched on the 15 April 2010 in Gauteng with provincial launches taking place in all the provinces on 19 April 2010.   The public testing will also take place during the launches.

Cabinet called on South Africans to be part of this initiative by making themselves available for testing in order to know their status, live healthy lifestyles and ‘€œhelp the nation to defeat the scourge of HIV and AIDS’€.

The full Cabinet statement can be read here

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