On 1 April 2010, a massive government campaign in the fight against HIV was launched. The revamping of the National Strategic Plan on AIDS and STIs (2007-2011) was developed by various stakeholders, including government, civil society and private sector, to reach 80 percent of those needing antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) by 2011 and contribute to a 50 percent reduction in HIV infections within the same timeframe.
Staff at the Ikhutseng Community Clinic in Klipgat in the North West province, are forcing patients to take HIV tests and those who refuse are denied treatment for their ailment.
It is alleged that clinic staff began using HIV tests as passports to treatment after the Department of Health launched its massive HIV counselling and testing campaign in April 2010.
The Gauteng Department of Health says that over three million people have tested for HIV in the province’s health facilities since the launch of the HIV counselling and testing (HCT) campaign in April 2010.
The department spokesperson, Simon Zwane, points out that, "As of 30 June 2011, 301 544 people tested for HIV in both public and private health institutions."
In the same vein, Zwane says the department had allocated R1.9 billion to the HIV/AIDS programme to increase the number of people on antiretroviral treatment to 520 000 by March 2012.
Health Minister, Aaron Motsoaledi, says the country needs to implement all of the resolution taken by the United Nations in relation to HIV/AIDS if it is to win the fight against the pandemic.
Motsoaledi, who was in the rural village of Mafefe, Limpopo, during the launch of a rural counselling and testing campaign, announced that his department has partnered with traditional leaders to try and get rural communities to test for HIV/AIDS.
With only seven weeks to go until the end of the government's campaign to give 15 million people HIV counselling and testing, most provinces are behind schedule and only North West is on target.
North West is the only province on target with 89 percent tested already and the Western Cape provided its figures to the end of March.
On April 25 last year, President Jacob Zuma and Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi launched the HIV counselling and testing campaign at Natalspruit Hospital, on the East Rand, and urged people to "know your status".
A campaign aimed at encouraging voluntary HIV/AIDS testing among first-year students kicked-off at the Mangosuthu University of Technology.
Branded ‘First Things First’, the campaign is spearheaded by Innovative Medicine of South Africa in collaboration with the South African National AIDS Council (SANAC) and hopes to test more than 35 000 students at all the country's 16 universities.
HIV/AIDS awareness organisations have welcomed the Department of Basic Education’s announcement that it will introduce HIV/AIDS Counselling and Testing (HCT) campaign to schools. However, the organisations have also added that protecting the human rights of pupils in schools is essential.
Education department spokesperson, Granville Whittle, says the department will be handling the matter cautiously, following concerns raised in media reports about the safety of pupils.
Government has revitalised its programmes to promote various prevention measures including medical male circumcision, prevention of mother to child transmission and the promotion of HIV testing.
Delivering his State of the Nation Address 2011 in Cape Town, Zuma stated that the testing has been popularly taken up around the country, adding that just over five million HIV tests have been done since the launch of the testing campaign in April last year.