US hopes to spend more on Aids in SA

The United States hopes to increase the money it spends to tackle HIV and Aids in South Africa, US Secretary of Health and Human Services Michael Leavitt said on Monday.

He met Social Development Minister Zola Skweyiya at the Union Buildings in Pretoria as part of an official visit to South Africa, one of the stops on a four-country African tour.

”We are hopeful that it could increase over time. It makes us feel good to be able to contribute,” Leavitt said about the US President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief (Pepfar).

South Africa receives more Pepfar resources than any other country benefiting under the plan, including more than R2,5-billion this year alone. Much of the money goes to 380 local NGOs and several government departments working on HIV and Aids.

Leavitt visited several places on Monday where the money was spent. He said he was impressed with what he saw.

”I continue to be highly impressed with the plan that the South African government has developed on HIV/Aids. What remains now is the implementation; we continue to use the resources for that purpose,” he said.

In May, US President George Bush asked Congress to double the US commitment to fight HIV and Aids around the world to $30-billion. Congress still has to decide on this request.

Skweyiya said HIV/Aids remains a challenge in South Africa and that the American help is crucial.

”We hope the work that has been happening will continue because they have been assisting quiet a number of civil society organisations,” he said.

Leavitt’s next stop is Mozambique before he travels to Tanzania and Rwanda. — Sapa

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