A total of 213725 people in the province were tested for HIV between April 2011 and March.
During this period, 16053 tested HIV-positive while 24495 have been on ARV treatment since the beginning of the ARV rollout by government.
Health MEC Mxolisi Sokatsha revealed these statistics during the International Aids Candlelight Memorial service at Ga-Segonyana municipality town hall in Kuruman.
Sokatsha said the community, and society in general, had to provide a caring and supportive environment for HIV-positive individuals and their families as the stigma associated with HIV and TB and fear of discrimination caused some people to avoid finding out their status or disclosing it, or accessing treatment and care.
“As communities, we have to make sure the rights of people living with HIV and Aids are upheld and to ensure they get proper treatment,” he said.
The International Aids Candlelight Memorial, coordinated by the Global Network Of People Living With HIV, is the oldest and largest grassroots mobilisation commemoration for HIV and Aids awareness in the world.
It was first commemorated in 1983 and has since been observed internationally on the third Sunday of May every year.
On August 12, 2011, Deputy President Kgalema Motlhanthe made an announcement that people living with HIV whose CD4 cell count was 350 or less were eligible to access antiretroviral treatment with immediate effect as a way of saving lives.
Sokatsha said his department had adopted a new provincial strategic plan for HIV-Aids, STIs and TB for 2012-2016.
“It represents a framework of strategic actions that must be undertaken by the province in order to address the growing HIV and Aids, STIs and TB pandemics with focus on provincial specific factors and emerging issues. The plan describes how the unique challenges in these pandemics affecting the province’s economic and social development will be addressed within the next five years,” said Sokatsha.
Kenny Sebati, provincial coordinator of the National Association of People Living With Aids, said the fight against HIV-Aids could not be the sole responsibility of one sector, department, ministry or organisation.
“We need to mobilise the community and all relevant stakeholders to work more closely with everyone to deal with the challenge of HIV-Aids in the province. The fight is the responsibility of us all,” said Sebati.