The uMkhanyakude District Municipality in KwaZulu-Natal is celebrating after reaching its target set by the United Nations (UN) in the fight against HIV and Aids.
The target was set by the joint United Nations Programme on HIV and Aids in 2013.
It stipulates that by 2020, 90% of people infected with HIV should know their status. Around 90% of those who test positive should receive treatment, while 90% of those on antiretrovirals should have viral suppression.
The uMkhanyakude District is one of the poorest and underdeveloped regions in South Africa.
And through the help of the government and foreign aid, it has become the third area to achieve the 90-90-90 goals set by the United Nations.
The first two were the uMzinyathi and Ugu districts, also in KwaZulu-Natal.
Health Minister Zweli Mkhize on Thursday said this achievement was the result of political will, strategic partnerships and use of modern technology.
“This is a testament that government, working together with everyone, can achieve the vision of a healthy society.”
He said by achieving the UN’s 90-90-90 targets, the uMkhanyakude district was on its way to defeating HIV and Aids.
“This means 90% of the people in uMkhanyakude have tested and know their status, 90% are on ARVs and 90% are virally suppressed and therefore cannot transmit the virus to others.”
Teenage girls and young women account for most of the new HIV infections.
Mkhize said through government interventions, strategic partnerships with communities and foreign aid, the district was headed towards a brighter future.
On Friday when he visits the area, the minister hopes to promote the national health insurance in the region.
KwaZulu-Natal Health MEC Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu is also expected there.
Almost eight million people are living with HIV and Aids in South Africa and KwaZulu-Natal has the highest prevalence, accounting for around 24% of that figure.
Mkhize hopes the whole country will reach the 90-90-90 target by the end of next year.