21 January 2013
UNAids executive director Michel Sidibe has congratulated South Africa and President Jacob Zuma on the progress the country is making in the fight against HIV and Aids.
Zuma met with Sidibe at his residence in Pretoria on Friday. The two discussed various ways in which the fight against the disease in Africa and the world could be intensified.
According to the Presidency, Sidibe said he was particularly impressed by the government’s policy interventions and leadership that, since 2009, have led to significant progress in the fight against HIV and Aids in the country.
He appealed to South Africa to “lead all efforts in Africa, especially in manufacturing their own medicine and thus reducing dependency on countries outside the continent”.
“We appreciate the support of UNAids in this difficult battle against the epidemic,” Zuma said.
Zuma reiterated that the country had moved from “very difficult times” on HIV and Aids to a success story in a short space of time.
There were now more than 1.7-million South Africans on antiretroviral treatment, with dramatic improvements in life expectancy, Zuma said. “We have about 2 948 public health facilities now initiating patients on antiretroviral treatment compared to 495 in January 2010.”
The country had also seen a drop in the rate of new infections, from 1.4% to 0.8%, in the 15-24 age group, while mother-to-child transmission of HIV had been massively reduced, from about 8% in 2008 to 3.5% in 2011.
Zuma added that more than 20-million South Africans had been tested for HIV through the government’s HIV Counselling and Testing Campaign since its launch in 2010.
“This indicates that the stigma around the disease is being eradicated, which will assist our continued prevention efforts, and the rate of new HIV infections looks set to decline over the coming years as we deepen our existing programmes.”