South Africa: HIV Infection

International Development written question – answered on 5th February 2008.

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Photo of Siân James Siân James Labour, Swansea East

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what recent assessment he has made of progress in tackling HIV/AIDS in South Africa; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Gillian Merron Gillian Merron Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for International Development

South Africa has the highest burden of HIV and AIDS in the world. Over 5.5 million people are infected, and it is estimated that in 2007 over one sixth of the world's population with HIV live in South Africa. Recent data from antenatal clinics suggest a modest decline in prevalence rates: in 2006, 29 per cent. of all pregnant women had HIV, down from 30 per cent. in 2005. However, the UNAIDS Global update states that there is no evidence of a decrease in HIV among young South Africans.

Over the past year there has been renewed optimism that South Africa is beginning to scale up efforts to tackle HIV and AIDS. On 3 May the South African Cabinet approved a new national strategic plan for AIDS, with interim targets that put South Africa on track to achieve universal access by 2011. The plan is overseen by a revitalised South African National AIDS Council which brings together all Government departments and 17 civil society sectors, including people living with HIV and AIDS, business, researchers, women, faith based organisations and traditional leaders. The UK provided technical assistance, through UNAIDS, to this revitalisation process.

DFID has also directly supported India (£28.5 million, 2002-10), Bangladesh (up to £50 million, 2005-10), and Iraq (about £21 million since 2003) to upgrade their energy sectors. We have recently committed £20 million to help Sierra Leone (2008-13).

We spent approximately £1.75 million during the last five years on energy research to help developing countries address energy sector challenges and have committed a further £3.75 million (2007-12) to look at the contribution bio-energy can make to poverty reduction in Africa. We are planning to develop an additional research programme to look at energy policy options for developing countries as they consider what action is needed to tackle climate change.

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