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Goosby Says PEPFAR Remains Among ‘Highest Priorities’ Of Obama Administration, Welcomes Partnership With South African President Zuma

Eric Goosby, head of PEPFAR, on Wednesday reemphasized the U.S. commitment to fighting HIV/AIDS globally, the Associated Press reports. Despite concerns by international aid groups that the current economic climate might force HIV/AIDS funding to be scaled back, “Goosby said President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton have assured him his program remains among ‘the highest priorities,'” the news service writes.

Goosby’s comments came during a telephone interview from Washington, where he “also described a new era of cooperation with South Africa, the nation that bears the greatest AIDS burden” and is also “the largest recipient of PEPFAR funds,” according to the AP. “We are very gratified to be able to partner with the Zuma administration in a much more robust manner,” Goosby said.

According to Mary Fanning, head of health programs at the U.S. Embassy in Pretoria, South Africa, PEPFAR’s budget for the country was set to get a $10 million increase for 2010-2011 from the previous year. Fanning said the U.S. seeks to help the country meet its goals in the fight against HIV/AIDS and “in an unprecedented move … left 5 percent of next year’s budget free to be used as the South African government saw fit,” the AP writes (Bryson, 11/18).