DURBAN - The man who discovered HIV says educational programmes are not enough to tackle the virus.
Dr Robert Gallo believes more energy and resources must be directed at outreach, testing and proper treatment.
The renowned American academic has received an honorary doctorate from the University of KwaZulu-Natal.
Gallo's contribution to science has earned him international recognition.
Back in the 1980s, he proved that HIV causes AIDS.
Gallo delivered an inspiring speech to graduates at the University of KwaZulu-Natal on Thursday.
He said scientists and Aids activists have fought against inadequate political will, insufficient early funding, prejudice and "ridiculous claims from leaders that HIV exists - but doesn't cause Aids".
“Despite the tragedy — the horror of AIDS — AIDS resulted in many positive spin offs … such as revitalizing vaccine research, bringing the realisation that we can have therapy against viruses--not just bacteria … and bringing the pharmaceutical industry into the targeting of viruses. There were also many positive social-political spin offs, perhaps the most obvious being our greater understanding of differences in sexual orientation and the far greater involvement of the US with Africa.”
Gallo has spent much of his career trying to find cures for HIV and other viral, chronic illnesses.
World Health Organisation figures show that by 2014, Aids had caused over 1-point-5 million deaths worldwide.
KwaZulu-Natal has South Africa's highest HIV prevalence rate in the country.
“We hoping that in the crop of young scientist that we produce on an annual basis they would be a rising stars that will come and take this scourge away from us,” said UKZN Vice-Chancellor Dr. Abert van Jaarsveld.
Gallo has challenged his fellow scientists to be more involved in communities and appealed to governments to allocate enough funds for medical research.