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Cablegate: President Zuma Announces He Will Test for Aids

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O 011524Z DEC 09 //ZDK//
FM AMEMBASSY PRETORIA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0423
INFO RUEAUSA/DEPT OF HHS WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUEHPH/CDC ATLANTA GA 2492
RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE
RUEHZO/AFRICAN UNION COLLECTIVE

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DEPT FOR AF/S JCARSON
USAID FOR BUREAU OF GLOBAL HEALTH AND AFR/SA
HHS FOR OFFICE OF GLOBAL HEALTH AFFAIRS EGOOSBY, JMONAHAN
CDC FOR GLOBAL HEALTH OFFICE SBLOUNT
NIH FOR RGLASS

SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: TBIO PGOV EAID KHIV SF
SUBJECT: PRESIDENT ZUMA ANNOUNCES HE WILL TEST FOR AIDS

1. (SBU) Summary: President Zuma called for a renewed struggle
against AIDS in South Africa, leading by example as he promised to
have himself tested for AIDS. Zuma emphasized that prevention was
the key and called for wide testing. He announced a number of new
initiatives to give more AIDS patients access to treatment. Zuma
thanked international partners for their material support to the
campaign against AIDS. End Summary.

2. (SBU) South Africa's President Jacob Zuma embraced the challenge
of preventing HIV infection and overcoming the HIV/AIDS crisis in
South Africa in his World AIDS Day address on December 1, announcing
a number of initiatives to give more AIDS patients access to
treatment and expand testing for HIV. The President stressed
prevention and a massive campaign for testing. His overall message
was one of taking charge and showing leadership to grapple with the
AIDS crisis in South Africa. He called for: "no more shame, blame,
discrimination, or stigma with respect to HIV/AIDS in South Africa."
Zuma likened the current need to "deploy every effort and mobilize
every resource" against the scourge of AIDS to the struggle to
overcome apartheid. In addition, Zuma called for integration of
HIV/AIDS counseling, testing, and treatment into the overall health
system by March 2010, instead of solely relying on the parallel,
separate system.


3. (SBU) President Zuma announced that he is making arrangements
for his own HIV test. He said he has taken HIV tests before and
knows his status. Zuma said he would do another test as part of
this new campaign and urged all South Africans to "start planning
for your own tests". He also called for South Africans to take
responsibility for their actions and to act safely to ensure
prevention.

4. (SBU) The President announced the following major outcomes-based
policy initiatives, effective from April 2010:

- - All children under one year of age will get treatment if they
test positive (regardless of CD4 cell count), aiming to reduce the
high rate of infant mortality in South Africa.

- - All patients with both TB and HIV will get treatment with
antiretrovirals (ARVs) if their CD4 cell count is 350 or less. (At
present, treatment is available only when the CD4 cell count is less
than 200.) The intent is to change treatment for TB and HIV/AIDS so
that it is "under one roof" and to reduce the number of early deaths
due to TB in HIV-positive individuals.

- - All pregnant HIV-positive women with a CD4 cell count of 350 or
less or with symptoms regardless of CD4 cell count will have access
to treatment. (At present, HIV positive women are only eligible for
treatment if their CD4 cell count is less than 200.)

- - All other pregnant women not falling into this category, but who
are HIV-positive, will be put on preventive treatment at fourteen
weeks to protect the baby. (In the past, this was only started
during the last term of the pregnancy.)

5. (SBU) President Zuma thanked South Africa's international
partners, who continue to provide material support to "our campaign
against AIDS." He did not mention any specific countries or
programs, including PEPFAR, by name. The Health Minister told the
Ambassador after the speech that the Deputy President and Department
QAmbassador after the speech that the Deputy President and Department
of Health (DOH) would make a statement thanking the U.S. for its
commitment to give South Africa an additional $120 million for ARVs
in response to a plea from President Zuma. The Embassy, with DOH
agreement, had already organized media coverage for the R900 million
U.S. commitment for ARVs, which ran in this morning's papers and on
the international wire services. Radio and TV coverage was massive
and is continuing this afternoon, as well as additional requests for
interviews with Ambassador Gips. Complete media run-down will be
sent separately.

6. (SBU) Before the speech, the Ambassador participated in a panel
with the Deputy President/South African Nation AIDS Council Chair
and the Minister of Health, among a few others, for a dialogue
responding to questions from a number of key sectors: women, men,
children, and people living with AIDS and disabilities. The
Ambassador recognized the leadership of the South African Government
(SAG) and expressed the U.S. commitment to work closely with it to
mitigate the AIDS crisis.


7. (SBU) President Zuma's speech follows an equally strong speech

PRETORIA 00002463 002 OF 002


on the AIDS crisis that he delivered to Parliament on October 30,
2009. He announced the SAG's targets to reduce the rate of new
infections by 50 percent and to extend the antiretroviral program to
80 percent of those who need it by 2011. His speeches and policies
mark a sea change from previous denialism, but Zuma has been careful
to stress that the SAG and the ANC had already put in place various
strategies to comprehensively deal with HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and
sexually transmitted diseases.

GIPS

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