Zuma Calls For Renewed Effort In Fight Against HIV/AIDS

South African President Jacob Zuma on Thursday called for a renewed effort in the country’s fight against HIV/AIDS, the Star/Independent Online reports. During a speech to South Africa’s National Council of Provinces, which also addressed the country’s economy, Zuma pointed to what he called “chilling statistics” reflective of the “devastating impact HIV and AIDS” is having on the country (du Plessis, 10/30).

Zuma highlighted the toll HIV/AIDS was having on South African children “with studies suggesting 57 percent of the deaths of children aged under 5 during 2007 were due to HIV,” Reuters reports. According to the news service, “South Africa has one of the world’s heaviest HIV caseloads.”

“Though we have the largest anti-retroviral programme in the world, we are not yet winning this battle,” Zuma said, adding, “The co-infection rate between HIV and tuberculosis has now reached a staggering 73 percent” (Roelf, 10/29).

“Zuma told MPs and premiers that [South Africa] was in danger of the number of deaths each year outstripping the number of births and ‘if we do not respond with urgency and resolve, we may well find our vision of a thriving nation slipping from our grasp,'” Business Day writes (Hartley, 10/30).

Zuma appealed for South Africans to build upon what he described as “very impressive awareness levels” about HIV/AIDS, transforming such “knowledge into a change of behavior,” SAPA/News24.com writes. “Knowledge will help us to confront denialism and the stigma attached to the epidemic,” he said (10/29).

Times LIVE adds that “Zuma called on MPs to ‘resolve now’ that on World AIDS Day, in December, ‘we start to turn the tide’ on the battle against HIV and AIDS” (Ncana, 10/29).

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