Dramatic Aids turnaround in store for SA

South Africa, the country with the highest number of HIV cases, is expected to make a dramatic turnaround in the disease due to a change in government policies, a UNAids official said Thursday.

“It now has more people with HIV infections than any country in the world, with 5.6 million. That is because a lack of political commitment before,” said Sheila Tlou, UNAids regional director for East and Southern Africa.

“However there is a turnaround in the new government under President (Jacob) Zuma which is committed,” in its fight against HIV and Aids, she said.

“By 2020 there will be massive reductions in South Africa.”

Tlou said East and Southern Africa was known as “the centre of the epidemic”. Of the 34 million people living with HIV in the world, almost three quarters live in that region.

“One of our targets is to reduce new infections by 50%,” by 2015 she told a press conference in Geneva.

But Tlou noted that recent reductions in the commitment of the Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria which assists UNAids could have a negative impact on the fight against the disease.

“There has been quite a lot of progress since 1997 with a 25% reduction in new infections in our region,” said Tlou, a nursing professor and a former Botswana minister of health based in Johannesburg.—Sapa



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