US to spend $300 million to fight HIV in Africa

Washington - The Obama administration said on Saturday it was allotting an additional $300 million to the effort to reduce HIV infection among girls and young women in 10 sub-Saharan African countries.

The sum would help the main US program for fighting AIDS in Africa to meet goals including providing antiretroviral treatment to 12.9 million people by the end of 2017, said Susan Rice, President Barack Obama's national security adviser.

"No greater action is needed right now than empowering adolescent girls and young women to defeat HIV/AIDS. Every year, 380 000 adolescent girls and young women are infected with HIV," she said in a statement.

The President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, working with partner countries, now provides antiretroviral treatment for 7.7 million people worldwide, Rice said.

The program, known as PEPFAR, was launched in 2003 by former President George W. Bush and has provided billions of dollars for antiretroviral drugs and treatment in Africa.

By 2017, Rice said, PEPFAR also aims to "provide 13 million male circumcisions for HIV prevention, and reduce HIV incidence by 40% among adolescent girls and young women within the highest burdened areas of 10 sub-Saharan African countries."

The countries at the focus of the program are: Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

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