The Executive Mayor in the City of Joburg, Cllr Kabelo Gwamanda, has launched the U=U campaign in partnership with UNAIDS at the Soweto Theatre in Jabulani earlier this week.
The aim of the U=U campaign is to ensure that people living with HIV have access to treatment and care needed to remain healthy, to improve their quality of life and to reduce HIV transmission through viral suppression.
In collaboration with UNAids, the big emphasis was to convey a message to everyone to “Rise Up and Join the Campaign to eliminate stigma, Improve Quality of Lives while Preventing New HIV Infections”.
Mayor Gwamanda was accompanied by the Member of the Mayoral Committee for Health and Social, Cllr Ennie Makhafola. “U=U campaign simply means a person whose viral load is undetectable would not transmit the virus to their partner.
Johannesburg remains one of the cities with the highest levels of HIV-positive people to date. The City has people who test positive daily.
“HIV and Aids are no longer a death sentence. Let us not wait to go to hospital but let’s practice the norm of testing and knowing the status early. Please know that when you test today, we give you treatment today. It is only in rare cases that this is not the norm,” said Cllr Makhafola.
Thabang Mhlanga, the leader of People Living with HIV in the Gauteng Sector, expressed happiness at the launch of the campaign by the City and UNAids. He said they hope it will assist with challenges of stigma/discrimination, starting and staying on treatment and drugs stock levels at clinics. He urged the City to test people living with HIV for TB.
UNAids Country Director Dr Eva Kiwango congratulated the City of Joburg for the launch. “We have to end Aids in the cities if we are to end Aids in this country. Ending Aids is a political and financial choice. The UNAids is committed to support the City of Joburg.”
In his keynote address, Mayor Gwamanda said it is sad that a pandemic of this nature, which divided society, was trivialised by political leadership at some point when the city had taken an initiative to participate in finding solutions to the pandemic.
“This current political leadership prioritises the lives of our people above anything else. To the youth and men especially, I encourage you to get tested and know your status. If you have HIV, take treatment. That’s the best gift you can give yourselves.
U=U is a powerful concept to end HIV. To Dr Kiwango, I would like to say, we commit to the campaign as the City of Joburg,” said Cllr Gwamanda.
City of Joburg follows the City of eThekwini is the second metro in the country to launch the campaign.