KZN remains the province with the highest number of people living with HIV and Aids.

This shocking statistic was revealed by various speakers at the ninth South African Aids Conference.

The three-day conference started with a march from Botha Park to Gugu Dlamini Park in Durban yesterday. The march aimed to create awareness of the disease and educate people about it.

Silungile Mntambo, from the South African Positive Women Ambassadors, said: “We hope the speakers will discuss the role traditional healers can play in testing people in their huts. We have noticed people listen to traditional healers more than doctors, so it will save many lives if they are allowed to test them and tell them to fetch their medication,” she said.

Nosipho Vidima from the Sex Workers Education and Advocacy Task Force and Sisonke Sex Workers Movement said they hoped the sex workers’ legalisation would be discussed. She said sex workers’ programmes were introduced at previous conferences.

“Those programmes helped us, but there’s still a long way to go as sex workers are still experiencing violence as a result of their work.

“The painful thing is that we are not allowed to open rape cases because of our work,” she said.

Premier Sihle Zikalala thanked everyone who participated in the march.

“We are sending a message to end gender-based violence.

“It’s true women are the most abused. We urge all human rights to be respected, even of those living with HIV and Aids,” he said.

Deputy president David Mabuza, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize and Zikalala were expected to officially open the conference yesterday afternoon.