1 July 2013
US President Barack Obama has praised South Africa for leading the way in tackling HIV/Aids and in so doing paving the way for a brighter future for the country’s people.
Obama, who is on a three-nation tour of Africa, visited the Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation Youth Centre in Cape Town on Sunday during a jam-packed visit which included a meeting with President Jacob Zuma on Saturday in Pretoria.
“South Africa obviously has faced a heavy burden from HIV as well as other diseases – tuberculosis, most recently. But the great news is that South Africa is now leading the way in caring for its citizens, in paving the way for a brighter future for the South African people and their families.”
Obama said that because of the work being done on the ground, and with the backing of a partnership between the United States and South Africa – a model which has been duplicated across the continent – there was the possibility of achieving an Aids-free generation.
While South Africa had done terrific work, Obama said he was proud that the United States had been a major partner on this issue through the President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief (Pepfar).
“We’ve seen more than $3.7-billion in supporting South Africa’s efforts to combat HIV and Aids.
“Together, we’re investing in building South Africa’s capacity to manage a national response to HIV and Aids. The South African government is showing leadership up and down the line.”
Obama said the Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation Youth Centre was a wonderful example of the transition from receiving US government support through Pepfar to independent funding that continues to secure the health of Africa’s next generation.
Obama met with counsellors and outreach workers from the centre and said it was because of their work that there had been a reduction in the stigma around testing on HIV/Aids and greater education around prevention.
He said he had seen treatment that allowed people to manage HIV and live long and productive lives.
Tutu thanked Obama for the contribution that Pepfar had made in the struggle against TB, HIV/Aids and malaria, not just in South Africa but in other parts of Africa.