8 August 2012
South Africa and the United States have signed a new framework partnership on HIV/Aids that outlines the two countries’ plans over the next five years for collaboration toward an Aids-free generation in South Africa.
The signing was witnessed by visiting US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and South African Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi during a visit to the Delft South Clinic in the Western Cape on Wednesday.
The visit affirmed a strong and continuing partnership between South Africa and the US on HIV/Aids and TB programmes amid fears that the proposed White House budget for 2013 would cut the US President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief (Pepfar) by around US$550-million, threatening the success of programmes around the world, including South Africa.
The US has so far provided around $3.2-billion (over-R26 billion) in support of South Africa’s HIV/Aids response through Pepfar.
US Embassy spokesperson Brian Denver said on Wednesday that his country would continue to strongly support South Africa’s national HIV and TB response during and beyond the five-year timeframe covered in the new Partnership Framework Implementation Plan (PFIP).
Emphasis, he said, would be on technical assistance to further strengthen the country’s capacity to respond, as well as aspects of combination prevention and care for orphans and vulnerable children.
“With the South African government in the lead, coordinated planning and alignment of implementation with Pepfar and other development partners like the Global Fund will lead to an increase in access to health and social services,” said Denver, echoing Clinton’s remarks from Tuesday’s press conference in Pretoria.
During the briefing, Clinton said the US was “still seriously committed” to eradicating HIV and Aids and would continue to avail resources in this regard.
“We all agree that we are working toward this HIV-free generation, and America commits to be part of that fight,” Clinton said. “We will see this fight through the end with our partners, including South Africa.”
South Africa has taken many steps forward in the fight against HIV and Aids. The government now provides access to free antiretroviral treatment to over 1.7-million people, and has reduced the percentage of new paediatric HIV infections due to mother-to-child transmission from 8% in 2008 to 2.7% in 2011.
South Africa has also, in the 20 months since the launch of its voluntary testing and counselling campaign, tested 20-million people for HIV.