Feature story

Deputy President of South Africa echoes UNAIDS priorities at international AIDS conference

20 July 2009

South Africa’s Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe addresses opening of IAS 2009
Credit: International AIDS Society / Simon Deiner / SDR Photo

The Deputy President of South Africa, Kgalema Motlanthe has pledged to strengthen work on eliminating mother to child transmission of HIV.

His declaration came during his welcoming address at the opening session of the 5th IAS Conference on HIV Pathogenesis, Treatment and Prevention, taking place in Cape Town, South Africa from 19-22 July.

The Deputy President said that the importance of eliminating mother to child transmission of HIV was reinforced to him during his meeting with the Executive Director of UNAIDS, Michel Sidibé with whom he had met just three days earlier in Pretoria.

The two men met whilst Mr Sidibé was on an official visit to South Africa to highlight some of the key priority areas he urged South Africa to focus on in the coming years.

20090716_sa_200.jpg (from left) Mr Michel Sidibé, UNAIDS Executive Director; Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, Minister of Health of the Republic of South Africa and Mr Kgalema Motlanthe, Deputy President of the Republic of South Africa and Chair of the South African National AIDS Council after a meeting in Pretoria, South Africa on 16 July 2009.
Credit: UNAIDS/G.Williams

The meeting took place just a day after the Executive Director had visited the paediatric ward of the Queen Elizabeth II hospital in Maseru, Lesotho where staff were caring for children born with HIV. An experience which Sidibé described as “a sad realisation of how much still needs to be done to prevent mothers living with HIV from transmitting the virus to their babies”.

The Deputy President said that during the meeting they had agreed that South Africa must ensure that it dramatically decreases the number of infants that are infected so that it can have a generation free from HIV.

Mr Sidibe has championed preventing mother to child transmission of HIV as one of UNAIDS nine priority areas which have been recently defined in a “Joint Action for results: UNAIDS Outcome Framework