Agence France Presse (01.19.12) - Friday, January 20, 2012
UNAIDS said Thursday it expects South Africa will see "massive
reductions" in HIV/AIDS cases by 2020.
"[South Africa] now has more people with HIV infection than
any country in the world, with 5.6 million. That is because of
a lack of political commitment before," said Shelia Tlou,
UNAIDS regional director for east and southern Africa.
"However, there is a turnaround in the new government under
President Zuma," which is committed to fighting the epidemic,
she said at a press conference in Geneva.
Since assuming the presidency in 2009, Zuma has taken dramatic
steps to reduce the toll of HIV/AIDS in South Africa. He has
significantly expanded the country's antiretroviral treatment
program, and last month he unveiled a plan to halve the number
of new HIV infections during the next five years. It is the
first such plan since the 2008 ouster of President Thabo Mbeki
and his health minister, Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, who
advocated vegetables rather than medicines to treat AIDS.
Tlou, a nursing professor and former minister of health in
Botswana, said the region is known as the "center of the
epidemic," as nearly three-quarters of the 34 million people
with HIV/AIDS worldwide live in east or southern Africa.
"There has been quite a lot of progress since 1997, with a 25
percent reduction in new infections in our region," she said.
"One of our targets is to reduce new infections by 50 percent"
by 2015, she added.