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South African President Introduces National Strategic Plan On HIV, STIs, TB

South African President Jacob Zuma in a speech on Thursday to mark World AIDS Day introduced a new five-year National Strategic Plan (.pdf) on HIV, sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and tuberculosis (TB), which “calls for stepped-up prevention efforts to halve new infections of HIV and tuberculosis by 2016 and to put 80 percent of eligible patients on antiretroviral drugs to fight AIDS,” Agence France-Presse reports (12/1). In addition, the plan aims to reduce the number of mother-to-child HIV transmission cases, which Zuma noted was halved between 2008 and 2010, reduce HIV- and TB-related stigma, target high-risk populations, and promote education among youth to reduce their risk of HIV infection, according to Times Live (Chauke/Mclea, 12/2).

“The new plan also identifies sexual violence and intimidation against women as a key factor in the spread of HIV/AIDS,” Reuters notes (Roelf, 12/1). “I want to make a special request to all South Africans: Let us support our family members, neighbors, colleagues and friends who test positive for HIV. … When people test positive for HIV, they need love, understanding and support of family, friends and relatives more than ever to enable them to live long and healthy lives. They must not be made to feel like lepers,” Zuma said, according to Times Live (12/2).