Feature story

President Obama says South Africa is leading the way to an AIDS-free generation

08 July 2013

President of the United States of America, Barack Obama speaking with Archbishop Desmond Tutu during his visit to the Archbishop Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation (DTHF). Credit: DTHF

The President of the United States of America, Barack Obama stressed the feasibility to achieve an AIDS-free generation during his visit to the Archbishop Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation (DTHF) Youth Centre based in Cape Town, South Africa. President Obama toured the Foundation on 30 June as part of an official three-country visit to Africa—Senegal, Tanzania and South Africa.

“We have a possibility of achieving an AIDS-free generation and making sure that everyone in our human family is able to enjoy their lives, raise families, succeed and maintain their health here in Africa and round the world,” said President Obama.

Founded in early 1990s the DTHF provides HIV and Tuberculosis prevention, treatment, research and training as well as management services to communities of the Western Cape, particularly residents of townships who are at high risk of infection.

Its youth centre—opened in 2011 with help from several private sector and international partners including the United States President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR)—offers health services, life skills, and educational support to more than 2 000 registered young people.

“Thank you to the American people for the contribution that PEPFAR has made in our struggle against TB, HIV and malaria, not just here but in other parts of Africa,” said Archbishop Tutu. “Here in Africa we speak of ‘Ubuntu’—we say a person is a person through another person.”

In recent years, South Africa, which has the world’s largest HIV epidemic, made remarkable progress in its response to AIDS.  In 2011, South Africa recorded a 41% reduction in new HIV infections since 2001. The scale-up of HIV treatment programmes in the country enabled more than 2 million people living with HIV to access life-saving treatment and care services in 2012. And between 2009-2012, new HIV infections among children declined by 63% in the country.

“South Africa has faced a heavy burden from HIV but the great news is that the country is now leading the way in caring for its citizens—paving the way for a brighter future for South African people,” said President Obama.