AS THE world commemorated World Aids Day, deputy president David Mabuza said people living with HIV should be encouraged to take their medication.

“All our people living with HIV must always take their treatment. We should go out there, find and work with them to bring them close to health facilities,” he said.

Mabuza was speaking at Itireleng Health Centre in Dobsonville, Soweto.

In Mzansi, more than 7 million people are living with HIV.

Mabuza said young girls were most affected.

During an engagement with young girls from the NGO Tholulwazi Phakathi, Mabuza was so touched by one of the girls’ story that he committed to adopt her.

She spoke about being infected with HIV when she was raped as a six-year-old.

“You’re free to have my number and in the morning you can call me and greet me and ask about the plans.

“The food that I’m eating on a daily basis with my children, you’re going to eat it.”

Meanwhile in Rustenburg in the North West, residents gathered at the municipal hall to remember the four million people who’ve died of Aids in Mzansi.

The Bojanala district launched its Welcome Back Campaign, aimed at getting people who’ve stopped taking ARVs back on track.

Arts, Culture, Sports and Recreation MEC Virginia Tlhapi urged those living with the virus not to be ashamed and seek help.

“Taking your ARVs keeps you healthy and significantly reduces your risk of developing HIV-related complications,” said Tlhapi.

“Sticking to your treatment also lowers your chances of passing HIV onto others.

“We know life happens and there are a number of reasons why you would stop your ARVs, but getting back on treatment is beneficial.”

Tlhapi said those who returned for treatment shouldn’t be judged or criticised for stopping.

“They deserve to be treated with dignity and respect They deserve a warm welcome back.”