The US, through the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), is investing $1.2 billion USD (over R16 billion) over two years to support South Africa’s efforts to reach HIV epidemic control by 2020.

The announcement was made by the US’ Global AIDS Coordinator & Special Representative for Global Health Diplomacy, Ambassador Deborah L. Birx MD, and the Minister of Health, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, at the Global Citizen concert that took place in Johannesburg earlier this month.

This commitment of US funding includes an HIV Treatment “Surge” that supports President Ramaphosa’s call to action, in his State of the Nation address, to provide life-saving HIV treatment to two million more South Africans by 2020. The Surge plan was developed jointly by Americans and South Africans to accelerate HIV testing, treatment and retention, especially in the highest burden districts and highest volume health facilities.

The HIV Treatment Surge aims to make it easier for more people to start and stay on treatment by:

·         Expanding the health workforce, including community health workers;

·         Supporting more direct HIV treatment services;

·         Facilitating easier access to HIV medicines; and

·         Harnessing innovation and technology for greater impact.

“Controlling the HIV epidemic is not only possible, it is happening – country by country, community by community – across Africa,” said Ambassador Birx.

“Through the generosity of the American people, we are more committed than ever to ending AIDS in South Africa, so I am very pleased to announce that the US, through PEPFAR, will commit more than $1.2 billion US dollars, or over 16 billion rand, over two years, to help address the largest HIV epidemic in the world. This includes supporting South Africa’s critical efforts to achieve epidemic control, such as through the rapid acceleration of HIV treatment,” continued Ambassador Birx.

The US will continue to work closely with the government, as well as civil society, and faith-based, community, and private sector organisations to accelerate optimised HIV testing, treatment and retention strategies, particularly to reach men and expand HIV prevention, particularly for young women under age 25 and men under age 30 through the scale-up of innovative and successful DREAMS efforts (supporting girls to become Determined, Resilient, Empowered, AIDS-free, Mentored, and Safe women) and voluntary medical male circumcision for boys and young men in targeted age bands.

HIV Treatment Surge strategies are fully aligned with UNAIDS 90-90-90 goals, WHO guidelines and global best practices. The goal of the HIV Treatment Surge is to reach epidemic control in South Africa. Since 2004, Americans have invested more than R70 billion in South Africa through PEPFAR, which supports more than 100 South African organisations to provide needed HIV and TB prevention and treatment services. These partners include local, community organisations, key populations and people living with HIV.

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