UNAIDS Executive Director official visit to South Africa
28 September 2011
UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé started a seven-day visit to South Africa on 27 September which will focus on the country’s efforts to ending new HIV infections amongst children by 2015, HIV integration services and bridging the science and implementation divide.
Also high on the agenda is South Africa’s campaign to reach people with HIV testing and counseling services. Mr Sidibé met with South African Minister of Health Aaron Motsoaledi to discuss progress since the launch of the campaign in April 2010.
At the start of the campaign around 2 million people were tested for HIV—by September 2011 that number had risen to more than 13 million.
The Minister outlined that one of the most successful strategies had been bringing HIV testing and counseling to people—from workplaces to villages. By creating an open environment Minister Motsoaledi said, “People didn’t need to ask for an HIV test, it was the government asking people to participate.” At the HIV testing and counseling sites people could find out their HIV status, as well as other health needs such as blood pressure checks and cervical cancer screening.
The Minister also discussed the uptake in HIV treatment, highlighting that an additional 400 000 people nationwide had started on antiretroviral therapy since the beginning of the campaign. The government reports that HIV treatment is now available in more than 2 000 centers—up from 490 at the start of the campaign.
“South Africa has shown visionary leadership in the AIDS response in recent years. In such a short period of time real results for people can be seen across the country.” said Mr Sidibé. “I am looking forward, over the next few days to meeting the men and women who are making this happen and the families which are seeing the benefits.”
South Africa has shown visionary leadership in the AIDS response in recent years. In such a short period of time real results for people can be seen across the country
UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé
During the next week Mr Sidibé will be looking at how UNAIDS can support South Africa in achieving its commitment to ‘Zero new HIV infections’ in children and will visit a clinic providing services to families in Guateng province. He will also be drawing lessons from South Africa’s engagement to integrate HIV services with other health services as he visits a clinic in Durban providing HIV, tuberculosis, sexually transmitted infection and female cancer services.
Mr Sidibé will meet with provincial officials to discuss some of the challenges they face in implementing programmes in urban and rural areas and how they are overcoming them. He will also be meeting with some of South Africa’s top scientists, researchers and implementers to see how recent scientific breakthroughs in the AIDS response can be turned into a reality for the people who need them most.