Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Development Cooperation Alexander De Croo does site visits with UNAIDS in South Africa today, on the eve of World Aids Day. Sexologist and Goodwill Ambassador of the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), Goedele Liekens, is also taking part in this working visit. This year, Worlds Aids Day will be organised for the 30th time. The central theme this year is Live life positively – know your HIV status. Of the almost 40 million people infected with the HIV virus, one out of four doesn’t know their HIV serostatus.
Although the number of HIV infections is falling worldwide, there were still 1.8 million new infections last year. On this World Aids Day, Minister De Croo and UNAIDS therefore call for more attention for better access to HIV tests.
Importance of knowing your HIV status
Alexander De Croo: “In recent years we have made a lot of progress in the fight against HIV and AIDS. The number of infections has decreased, but too many people still don’t know that they are infected. It is important that people know their HIV status. That way, they can better protect themselves and their loved ones.”
Goedele Liekens: “In too many countries, including ours, prejudices about HIV and the fear of discrimination prevent people from being tested. As a result, they find out too late that they are HIV carriers. Hearing that you are infected with HIV is difficult for everyone. But it is extremely important that people know this timely. This way they can prevent worse health damage, get treatment faster and there is less risk of transmitting the virus.”
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Highest number of HIV infections
The site visits in South Africa are no coincidence. The countries in the Southern Africa have the highest number of HIV infections. In South Africa more than 7 million people are HIV virus carriers, which is almost one out of five.
The Belgian development policies devote a great deal of attention to HIV prevention. Last year our country allocated 83 million euros to UNAIDS (the UN agency that coordinates the fight against HIV/AIDS), the Global Fund (that implements the programs) and the WHO (that acts normatively). In the coming years, our country will continue to focus on HIV/AIDS prevention through partner organisations such as UNAIDS and UNFPA.