Zuma launched the HCT campaign on Sunday at the Natalspruit Hospital.
The HCT campaign will offer testing to all patients at the entry points in all health institutions and hopes to get up to 15 million people tested by June 2011.
It also forms part of government’s new and up-scaled HIV and AIDS prevention and treatment plan, which was announced by Zuma last December on World Aids Day.
The objectives of the new scaled up plan are to reduce the rate of infection by 50 percent by 2011 and to provide ARV treatment to 80 percent of those who need the treatment.
Other objectives of the new implementation plan include more emphasis on prevention through information, education, widespread distribution of condoms and mobilisation of millions of South Africans to know their status.
Speaking to BuaNews after getting tested, a relieved Thenjiwe Vilakazi, 55, said she was happy because she knows her status and will now make sure that she takes care of her health.
“I’ve never done it before and was shaken while waiting for the results, but I’m happy I did it, now the challenge is to encourage my husband to do the same,” Vilakazi said.
Encouraging people to get tested, Vuyiseka Dubula, who has known her HIV status since 2001 said the test saved her life.
“As civil societies and people living with HIV, we support the campaign and will go out and encourage people to get tested. There are services provided by government for them to live a normal life,” Dubula said.
Dubula also challenged other civil organisations to take the lead by being the first to get tested.
“Each and every one must take a responsibility for his or her health and its start with the test,” she said.
Also backing government’s initiative was National Association of People Living with HIV and AIDS (NAPWA) representative, Nkululeko Nxesi, who encouraged people to get tested early so that they can get treatment whilst there is still time.
“HIV is not a death sentence, it is manageable through government’s new improved measures to fight the disease,” Nxesi said.
He said NAPWA will conduct door-to-door campaigns encouraging people to get tested.
“We will establish clubs for people who are HIV negative in an attempt to encourage them to stay negative,” Nxesi said
He commended Zuma and Health Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi for taking leadership in the campaign.
“This campaign is for all of us and we must work towards achieving the target of getting 15 million people tested.” – BuaNew