IMPACT
07/11/2016 11:22 am ET Updated Jul 30, 2016

U.S Makes Huge Pledge To Fight AIDS In South Africa

South Africa has the world’s largest population of people living with HIV, at 6.8 million.
In this Nov. 15, 2012 file photo a newly mechanized pharmaceutical machine that helps pharmacists dispense medicine is loaded
ASSOCIATED PRESS
In this Nov. 15, 2012 file photo a newly mechanized pharmaceutical machine that helps pharmacists dispense medicine is loaded with ARV medication, at the U.S. sponsored Themba Lethu, HIV/AIDS Clinic, at the Helen Joseph hospital, in Johannesburg. To give people with HIV their best shot at survival and to stop the virus from spreading, patients should be treated much earlier than has previously been the case in developing countries, according to new guidelines issued Sunday June 30, 2013 at an AIDS meeting in Malaysia by the World Health Organization. (AP Photo/Denis Farrell, File)

JOHANNESBURG, July 11 (Reuters) - The United States on Monday pledged $410 million towards ending the AIDS epidemic in South Africa, the country hardest hit.

South Africa has the world’s largest population of people living with HIV, at 6.8 million, and the funds will help expand its antiretroviral programme, which provides treatment to more than 3 million patients.

The country experienced 180,000 AIDS-related deaths in 2015, according to the United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS). Its prevalence rate of HIV among adults, at 19 percent, is one of the highest in the world.

The funds were donated through the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), which also supports projects in South Africa to encourage male circumcision and attempts to reduce new HIV infections in girls and young women.

Delegates are expected to discuss the ambitious target, proposed by UNAIDS, of ending AIDS as a global health crisis by 2030 at the International AIDS Conference to be held in the South African coastal city of Durban next week.

HIV counsellor Angelina Dwoki (L) interacts with one of her patients, Rose Koluwa (R), an HIV positive mother of six boys and
ALBERT GONZALEZ FARRAN via Getty Images
HIV counsellor Angelina Dwoki (L) interacts with one of her patients, Rose Koluwa (R), an HIV positive mother of six boys and one girl, in her shelter in Juba on April 28, 2016. Rose was infected by her husband, who died a bit later. Since then, she lost her job and temporarily quit taking anti-retrovirals because she thought they were not helping her. . South Sudan experiences a generalised HIV epidemic, with concentration of high prevalence in urban areas, basically in the Equatorial region. According to UN AIDS, nearly 3% of the adult population is HIV positive, with 13,000 deaths every year and 18,000 new infections annually. However, these figures should be likely higher if there was a more accurate evaluation among the rural population. / AFP / Albert Gonzalez Farran (Photo credit should read ALBERT GONZALEZ FARRAN/AFP/Getty Images)

Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi said while the government expected to take on a larger share of the financial burden of HIV treatment and prevention, it depended on support from the international community.

“We mustn’t say that just because we are making progress the job is done,” he said. “The job is far from done.”

In May, Motsoaledi said South Africa recorded half of the 5,000 new infections a week among young women out of 14 southern and Eastern African countries.

Pretoria set up a new state-owned pharmaceutical firm last year to help cut the cost of HIV treatment. In December 2014, South Africa chose four drug companies, including India’s Cipla and local firm Aspen Pharmacare, to make and supply anti-retrovirals to public hospitals. (Reporting by Pete Vernon; Editing by James Macharia and Janet Lawrence)

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