Clinton grants S.Africa more control over AIDS programme

August 8, 2012 by Nicolas Revise

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Wednesday gave South Africa greater control over its AIDS programme, which Washington has spent $3.2 billion ramping up over the last eight years.

US aid began in 2004, when South Africa was an international pariah for then president Thabo Mbeki's refusal to accept that AIDS was caused by a virus. His health minister advocated beetroot and garlic instead of medication for treatment.

Now the country runs the world's largest AIDS treatment programme, with more than 1.2 million people currently receiving medication. About 5.7 million, or more than one in 11 South Africans, have HIV -- more people than in any other country.

"South Africa and the entire region has a brighter and healthier and more secure future," Clinton said while visiting a clinic in the Cape Town township of Delft.

"Even as we take a moment to say 'well done', we cannot make the mistake of thinking that our job is done," she said. "The disease is still very dangerous."

Currently the United States funds an array of programmes and clinics directly. Under the new arrangement, South Africa will gradually take over management of those programmes and patients will be shifted into the public health system.

"Some people may hear 'South Africa is in the lead' and think that it means that the US is bowing out," Clinton said. "Let me say this clearly: the US is not going anywhere."

"The partnership is changing for the better," she said. "Our goal is no new patients -- zero."

"South Africa will become the first country in Africa to plan, manage and pay for more of your own efforts to combat the epidemic," Clinton said in a speech later in the day. "The United States will continue to provide funding and technical support through our PEPFAR programme."

The change to the South African programme comes as the United States grapples with its own budget issues at home. AIDS activists have already voiced concern about possible cuts to PEPFAR, credited with transforming treatment in poor countries.

As the richest country in Africa, South Africa has far more resources than any of its neighbours to combat the disease.

According to UN data, the United States provides almost half the world's funding for AIDS assistance -- mainly through PEPFAR, the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief.

That has helped bring about dramatic changes in hard-hit countries like South Africa, where Clinton cited a litany of success.

The rate of newborns catching HIV from their mothers during childbirth has fallen from 8 percent in 2008 to 2.7 percent last year.

More than 6.8 million South Africans have undergone HIV testing and counselling, and 556,000 orphans have received care through the scheme.

Clinton has been on an African tour since July 31, having already visited Senegal, Uganda, South Sudan, Kenya and Malawi. On Thursday she heads on to Nigeria, Ghana and Benin.

Clinton has repeatedly advocated "partnerships" with Africa, hoping to lure countries attracted by China's massive investment across the continent, which has drawn accusations that Beijing is seeking mainly to extract resources to feed its own growing economy.

She urged South Africa to follow the legacy of its first black president Nelson Mandela, who led the transition from white-minority rule 18 years ago.

"The man who did so much to shape the history of a free South Africa has never stopped thinking about the future of South Africa," she said.

"That is the true legacy of president Mandela -- calling all of us to complete the work he started. To overcome the obstacles, the injustices, the mistreatments that everyone, every one of us will encounter at some point in our lives."

Explore further: South Africa unveils plan to halve HIV infections

Related Stories

South Africa unveils plan to halve HIV infections

December 1, 2011
President Jacob Zuma on Thursday unveiled a plan to halve the number of HIV infections over the next five years, cementing South Africa's turnaround from years of deadly denialism.

S.Africa in $208 mln AIDS drug venture with Swiss Lonza

February 10, 2012
South Africa on Friday unveiled plans for a 1.6 billion rand ($208 million, 157 million euro) pharmaceutical plant, in a joint venture with Swiss biochemicals group Lonza to produce anti-AIDS drugs.

UN sees 'massive' fall in South Africa AIDS cases

January 19, 2012
South Africa, home to the highest number of HIV cases in the world, should see a massive reduction by the end of the decade after a sea-change in government policy, a UNAIDS official said Thursday.

Recommended for you

Scientists find where HIV 'hides' to evade detection by the immune system

October 19, 2017
In a decades-long game of hide and seek, scientists from Sydney's Westmead Institute for Medical Research have confirmed for the very first time the specific immune memory T-cells where infectious HIV 'hides' in the human ...

National roll-out of PrEP HIV prevention drug would be cost-effective

October 18, 2017
Providing pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) medication to men who have sex with men who are at high risk of HIV infection (equivalent to less than 5% of men who have sex with men at any point in time) in England would be cost-effective, ...

Regulatory T cells harbor HIV/SIV virus during antiviral drug treatment

October 17, 2017
Scientists at Yerkes National Primate Research Center, Emory University have identified an additional part of the HIV reservoir, immune cells that survive and harbor the virus despite long-term treatment with antiviral drugs.

New research opens the door to 'functional cure' for HIV

October 17, 2017
In findings that open the door to a completely different approach to curing HIV infections, scientists from the Florida campus of The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have for the first time shown that a novel compound effectively ...

Researchers create molecule that could 'kick and kill' HIV

October 5, 2017
Current anti-AIDS drugs are highly effective at making HIV undetectable and allowing people with the virus to live longer, healthier lives. The treatments, a class of medications called antiretroviral therapy, also greatly ...

A sixth of new HIV patients in Europe 50 or older: study

September 27, 2017
People aged 50 and older comprise a growing percentage of HIV patients in Europe, accounting for one in six new cases in 2015, researchers said Wednesday.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.