The U.S. Consul General, Frances Chisholm recently discussed the latest United States initiatives on HIV/AIDS in South Africa.
The dialogue encompassed PEPFAR (the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief), strategies and programmes, including the DREAMS initiative for girls and young women,
which will significantly assist the KwaZulu-Natal region, and subsequently,the country and the world’s efforts, to create an AIDs-free future.
“In 2012, PEPFAR with the South African Government, put together and signed a Partnership Framework Implementation Plan (PFIP) to outline joint investments that would reduce new HIV infections, increase access to lifesaving treatment and strengthen health systems in South Africa,”
said Consul General Chisholm. “To date, PEPFAR has enjoyed many ground-breaking achievements, one of the latest, for example, in helping the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health to achieve a reduction in mother-to-child HIV transmission to lower than 2%.”
However, despite the efforts of all stakeholders involved, including PEPFAR and the general corporate responses, the state of the epidemic is still critical,
and KwaZulu-Natal is at its centre. According to UNAIDS, there are a staggering 2,363 new infections amongst girls between the ages of 15 and 24 every single week in South Africa.
In response to this crisis, Consul General Chisholm announced that PEPFAR is partnering with the Gates Foundation,
as well as the Nike Foundation, to sponsor a targeted $210 million international initiative called DREAMS (Determined, Resilient, Empowered, AIDS-free, Mentored, and Safe women) to reduce new HIV infections in Sub-Saharan African countries.
“DREAMS is targeting 10 African countries, of which South Africa will be the first,” said the Consul General.
“Five districts have been identified for the pilot programmes, two of which are in Gauteng and three in KwaZulu-Natal. The aim is to reduce incidences of HIV infection within the target group by 25% in the first year and by 40% in the second.”
The Consul pointed out the importance of public/private participation, as well as a strong corporate response, in achieving this goal.