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Since its launch in 2003, the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) has supported a world that’s safer and more secure from infectious diseases.

It’s main objective is to drive efforts to deliver lifesaving services in countries hardest hit by HIV/AIDS. 

Now, on the stage of the Global Citizen Festival: Mandela 100, presented and hosted by the Motsepe Foundation, PEPFAR has announced the largest single financial commitment to fighting HIV/AIDS the country has ever made. 

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On the day after World AIDS Day, it was announced that the United States, through PEPFAR, will commit more than $1.2 billion (R16 billion) over two years — to help support President Ramaphosa’s bold commitment to reach 2 million more South Africans with life-saving HIV treatment by 2020. 

“Before PEPFAR began, HIV was wiping out an entire generation across Africa and much of the world,” said Ambassador Deborah Birx, representing PEPFAR at the festival. "In 2000, there was a voice that stood up. That voice of Nelson Mandela went across the oceans, to our halls of Congress and to President Bush, and through eight congresses and three presidents." 

“And since 2003, the United States has invested more than $80 billion in the fight against HIV/AIDS — $75 billion in Africa,” she continued, with this investment we've saved 17 million lives, and prevented millions of new HIV infections, and transformed the global HIV response."

“But controlling the HIV epidemic is not only possible, it’s happening — country by country, community by community — across Africa,” Ambassador Birx continued. “We’re at an unprecedented moment in the HIV response, a time of great urgency, and great opportunity, particularly in South Africa.” 

She finished: “Together with you, we can make the impossible, possible.” 

Ambassador Birx was joined on stage by South African Minister of Health, Aaron Motsaoledi, who said that he wished to “thank the people and government of the United States for their continued and generous support, which is enabling an additional 2 million people living with HIV to be on antiretrovirals over the next two years.” 

“I encourage all South Africans to know their HIV and TB status by testing for HIV, and getting screened for TB,” he continued. “Start treatment immediately if you are diagnosed with HIV or TB. It will save your life.” 

He finished: “Finally, I wish to emphasise the importance of ending the global TB epidemic. That's why we call on our partners to fully fund the Global Fund to Fight AIDS and TB and Malaria.” 

South Africa is among the many countries within the African continent and other parts of the world that is supported by PEPFAR. And, since the start of South Africa’s relationship with PEPFAR, more than 3.7 million people have been provided with antiretroviral treatment (ART). 

“The difference is visible in the streets of South Africa,” said Justice Edwin Cameron, Constitutional court and HIV/AIDS activist. “Hundreds of thousands of people have had their lives restored like my health after 17 years.”

“I live a full, and vigorous, and active life because of antiretroviral treatments,” he continued. “My treatment is paid for by my medical insurance, but for many people PEPFAR money has made that difference.”

Thanks to PEPFAR’s work, alongside the South African government, mother-to-child transmission rates have decreased to less than 3%; more than 38 million people have received HIV counselling and testing; and more than 400,000 orphans and vulnerable children are receiving care services. 

And PEPFAR’s relationship with South Africa has also extended as a result of the UNAIDS Fast Track Strategy, which aims to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic by 2030. 

The relationship also works towards achieving the 90-90-90 target for 2020 — which aims to ensure that 90% of all people living with HIV know their HIV status; 90% of all people diagnosed will receive sustained ART; and 90% of all people receiving ART will have viral suppression. 

The Global Citizen Festival: Mandela 100 is presented and hosted by The Motsepe Foundation, with major partners House of Mandela, Johnson & Johnson, Cisco, Nedbank, Vodacom, Coca Cola Africa, Big Concerts, BMGF Goalkeepers, Eldridge Industries, and associate partners HP and Microsoft.


Defeat Poverty

The United States Just Announced Its Largest-Ever Single Financial Commitment to Fighting HIV/AIDS

By Mbali Kgame