About the Author: Donald Gips is the U.S. Ambassador to South Africa.
PEPFAR -- the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief -- is the largest commitment in history by a single nation to combat a disease. Our partnership with South Africa -- the largest PEPFAR investment country -- has delivered comprehensive HIV/AIDS services to millions of South Africans. We are literally saving lives.
In 2010 alone, five million South Africans received HIV testing and counseling and nearly 920,000 additional adults and children received antiretroviral therapy with U.S. support. We doubled the number of primary health care clinics able to treat people with HIV/AIDS through the training and mentoring of medical professionals, the enhancement of drug delivery systems, and the renovation of clinics.
And we continue to celebrate breakthroughs in South Africa, including the microbicide research carried out by Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa at the University of KwaZulu Natal, with funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development as part of PEPFAR.
With the leadership of President Jacob Zuma and the Ministry of Health, and the incredible energy and dedication of the entire HIV/AIDS activist and support community, we know South Africa can win the battle against HIV.
Many policymakers and program implementers agree that PEPFAR is at a key turning point; the biggest challenge going forward is to transform this successful global AIDS initiative from an emergency response in the face of a worldwide epidemic into a sustainable chronic disease program. The PEPFAR Partnership Framework begins to outline our strategy in supporting a sustainable, South African-led response to the epidemic. The metric for success is not dollars spent on antiretroviral treatment (ART), but actual lives saved.
The comprehensive approach we are pursuing under the U.S. Global Health Initiative, which includes a focus on maternal and child health, on strengthening health systems, and -- yes -- on scaling up support for HIV treatment. This effort will have a significant and swift impact on the longevity and quality of life of millions of people now suffering from this preventable and treatable disease. Our work with nations on Partnership Frameworks provides a vehicle for achieving this, and we want to make sure that, together, we make the most of this opportunity.
In the end, however, it is up to the people of South Africa to defeat this disease. To echo President Zuma, in recent remarks, "We must accept that we need to work harder, and with renewed focus, to implement the strategy that we have developed together. We need to do more, and we need to do better, together…."
We remain firm in our commitment as a responsible partner of South Africa in this fight.
You can read Secretary Clinton's remarks at the U.S.-South African PEPFAR Partnership Framework Agreement Signing Ceremony here.