16/03/2007 09:26 - (SA)
Johannesburg - Targets to halve HIV infections and treat 80% of HIV-positive people by 2011 are realistic and achievable if people living with HIV/Aids work together with government, a conference heard on Thursday.
"Our experiences have shown us that the involvement of people living with HIV/Aids is fundamental to the national response," Prudence Mabele told a conference in Johannesburg on the government's draft National Strategic Plan on HIV, Aids and Sexually Transmitted Disease.
Mabele, who represents people living with HIV and Aids on the SA National Aids Council (Sanac), said a participatory document like the strategic plan was "long overdue".
"We will implement the plan, hold ourselves accountable, (and) support and hold government and other sectors accountable on this plan."
Deputy president Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka called for ongoing dialogue.
"We want open and frank discussions. The doors are not locked. You don't have to kick them. They are open.
"Government has the responsibility to lead and be the bigger person in this relationship, but government is not infallible."
Mlambo-Ngcuka called on delegates to make their HIV/Aids work part of everyday life. "Everyone and all of us should be an activist."
UN resident co-ordinator Scholastica Kimaryo described the plan as an "inclusive and brilliant product".
"Either we all win or the pandemic wins."
Kimaryo said creative work was taking place on the ground and a challenge was to document and widely disseminate the "amazing innovations" found throughout South Africa.
"It is clearly an area where South Africa is leading the world in innovative responses to HIV, Aids and STIs."
Among the aims of the new plan were halving new HIV infections by 2010 and reducing mother to child transmissions to less than 5%.
It also intended providing treatment, care and support to 80% of HIV-positive people by 2010.
The conference was attended by government, business and civil society and the draft plan was developed by a task term of experts from all three sectors.
"The conference was a major milestone in our efforts, as the people of South Africa, to respond to HIV and Aids, which is a major challenge affecting our lives in many different ways," said Mlambo-Ngcuka's spokesperson Thabang Chiloane.
Inputs from the conference's working groups would be incorporated into the final plan that would be adopted by SANAC within the next month, he said.
Chiloane said the plan would serve as a national framework and all sectors would develop sectoral programmes in line with it.
"The success of the plan is dependent on all sectors complementing each other on implementation."