The President of South Africa, Jacob Zuma met with UNAIDS Executive Director, Michel Sidibé, on 18 January at the president’s official residence in Pretoria. Mr Sidibé congratulated President Zuma on the country’s achievements in the AIDS response in recent years and reiterated the support of UNAIDS. President Zuma acknowledged that although South Africa has in the past suffered from adverse policy decisions, the current leadership in the country is moving the AIDS response forward.
They discussed the role of South Africa in promoting the African Union’s Roadmap for Shared Responsibility and Global Solidarity, which outlines the long-term sustainable strategies to finance and providing access to HIV treatment and prevention services in Africa. The two leaders also talked about the need to reduce external financial dependency and use the HIV response to encourage technological innovation. South Africa is one of the few countries in Africa to produce antiretroviral medicine for HIV treatment and could serve as a model for the rest of the continent.
Mr Sidibé and the President also discussed the development agenda beyond 2015 and the influence that South Africa can have on the global debate around reaching new development goals.
South Africa has not yet told the story of where we were to where we are now in the HIV response... this is a story that should be told. We have made great progress. Going forward, we will enlarge existing programmes and add others. We will consider seriously the goal of producing our own medicine as a continent so that more poor people can have access to live-saving antiretroviral drugs.
-- Jacob Zuma, President of South Africa
President Zuma has completely changed the face of the epidemic through his leadership. South Africa has managed to put 1.9 million people on treatment, more than 15 million people have tested for HIV and the price of medicine has dropped by more than 53%. South Africa is on the way to eliminate mother-to-child transmission by 2015. President Zuma's leadership is a model for others.
-- Michel Sidibé, UNAIDS Executive Director