The South African government has welcomed the decision by the US government to increase funding for the country's HIV programme through the President's Emergency Fund for Aids Relief (PEPFAR) programme.
This follows negotiations between the Department of Health (DOH) and PEPFAR in Washington DC in April this year after the US signalled that they were considering reducing funding for the next funding cycle, which commences in October 2019.
During discussions, the DOH was able to convince PEPFAR leadership that government is committed to initiating an additional two million people with HIV on treatment by December 2020, as announced by President Ramaphosa during the 2018 State of the Nation Address.
Having at least 6.1 million people on treatment and virally suppressed by December 2020 will enable South Africa to move towards epidemic control.
The US government is one of the biggest international HIV/Aids donors and has provided support to the country's HIV programme since 2004 through PEPFAR.
According to the DOH's Deputy Director General for Health Programmes, Yogan Pillay, these successful discussions have resulted in an agreement that the department will work with PEPFAR to develop a detailed proposal that will assist the department to increase the number of people with HIV on treatment and to ensure that they remain on treatment.
"While the proposed total funding envelope is yet to be approved by the US Congress, there is every indication that there will be an increase in PEPFAR funding to South Africa to support our HIV response," said Pillay.
The department thanked the US for their continued support, which will enable South Africa to move towards epidemic control.
Meanwhile, the department urged all South Africans to know their health status by testing regularly for HIV, and if positive, to start treatment immediately to ensure that they are virally suppressed and healthy.