A Shared Response to Fighting AIDS in South Africa

Posted by Eric Goosby
December 15, 2010
Testing Blood at an AIDS Care Laboratory in South Africa

About the Author: Ambassador Eric Goosby serves as U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator.

Today, U.S. Ambassador to South Africa Donald Gips and I had the privilege of joining Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and South Africa's International Relations and Cooperation Minister Maite Nkoana Mashabane for the signing of a landmark Partnership Framework that will guide future efforts to combat HIV/AIDS in South Africa. This five-year joint strategic framework will guide cooperation among the U.S. government through the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the South African Government, and other partners in-country.

Under the Partnership Framework, South Africa and the United States will work together to strengthen the effectiveness of our fight against HIV/AIDS. This will mean an intensive focus on preventing new HIV infections, an area where there are signs of encouraging progress. Together, we will also work to increase life expectancy and improve the quality of life for people living with, and affected by, HIV, including preventing tuberculosis infection.

South Africa has the largest number of people living with HIV -- an estimated 5.6 million people out of a population of 50 million. Recognizing the devastation that HIV/AIDS has caused, President Jacob Zuma and his administration have taken bold action. On World AIDS Day last year, President Zuma outlined a series of major new steps, describing his government's dramatically intensified commitment on HIV/AIDS. The United States has been a major supporter of South Africa's fight through PEPFAR. And to support South Africa's intensified commitment, we provided an additional $120 million in one-time PEPFAR bridge funding over two years to support the national antiretroviral treatment program, while the South African government ramps up its own investments.

We have been pleased to see the great strides that South Africa has made over the past year. Two weeks ago, on World AIDS Day, the South African government announced that one million people in the country are now receiving HIV treatment. South Africa has the largest treatment program in the world, and the United States is proud to be a major supporter of this impressive effort. In addition, recognizing the critical role of HIV-testing as a gateway to prevention, treatment and care, President Zuma launched a national testing campaign.

In South Africa and around the world, the United States is working to develop and support country-level leadership, building on successes and recent achievements and ultimately saving more lives. PEPFAR Partnership Frameworks help to strengthen this country capacity, ownership and leadership. To date, the United States has signed 19 Partnership Frameworks, including 15 with African countries. This emphasis on support for country ownership reflects the vision of President Obama's Policy Directive on Development and his Global Health Initiative.

We've had great success in the shared fight against HIV/AIDS, but the battle is far from over. Continued bold leadership and concrete commitment from partner governments is essential because governments are ultimately responsible for promoting the health of their citizens. Working together, we can build on our successes to save even more lives.

You can read Secretary Clinton's remarks at the U.S.-South African PEPFAR Partnership Framework Agreement Signing Ceremony here.

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