The world’s second largest HIV conference began Tuesday in South Africa, where delegates will discuss how unprecedented innovations and technologies could help mitigate the HIV & AIDS epidemic.
“This conference is where we dedicate our energy to share innovative plans to end the HIV epidemic,” Health Minister Dr. Zwelini Mkhize said a speech at the opening of the conference in Durban.
He said the conference held for the ninth year in the country discusses ways to prevent HIV transmission and also ensures that people infected are given medicines and kept on treatment.
“Lest we forget, we have an estimated 7.1 million South Africans who are HIV positive with 4.6 million on treatment,” Mkhize said.
The minister said South Africa must move rapidly to ensure that everyone living with HIV is on treatment.
South Africa also has the highest number of HIV patients who access treatment in the world.
“Equally we must ensure that those of us who are HIV negative remain negative. This needs innovation and change as the theme of this conference suggests,” he said.
“This biennial conference is the second largest HIV conference in the world, attended by approximately 3000 delegates, of which about a quarter are from SADC (Countries in Southern Africa), Europe, USA and other parts of the world,” Conference chairperson, prof. Refilwe Phaswana-Mafuya said in a statement.
She said some of those attending include scientists, policy makers, medical practitioners, government official and the civil society among others.
She said delegates will determine how contemporary explosive and disruptive technologies can contribute towards sustained HIV prevention efforts, HIV testing, ART (Anti retroviral) uptake and adherence.
Delegates will also discuss how technologies can trigger the development of new drugs, effectively utilize enormous volumes of data and improve communication and service delivery and eventually end the epidemic.
The conference will conclude June 14./aa