Hans-Jürgen Beerfeltz and Charlize Theron want to join forces in fighting HIV and AIDS in South Africa
09.02.2013 - Berlin – Hans-Jürgen Beerfeltz, State Secretary in the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, will meet Oscar-winning film star Charlize Theron today, to agree upon arrangements for joint projects to combat HIV and AIDS in South Africa. For this purpose they will sign a joint Letter of Intent together with the Cinema for Peace Foundation. "I heartily applaud the committed work being done by Charlize Theron in South Africa. HIV and AIDS are a threat to economic and social development in South Africa. That is why we want to join forces in order to tackle this plague against humanity even more effectively. Education is the key to preventing new infections. Young women in particular are doubly vulnerable: because of their poor standing in society they are rarely able to insist on protected sex and they are also frequently the victims of sexual violence. As a result they run a far higher risk of getting or being infected by HIV," said State Secretary Beerfeltz before his meeting with Ms Theron.
Tackling the problem of HIV and AIDS is and will remain a priority for German development cooperation: for example, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria is to receive a total of 1 billion euros from the BMZ between 2012 and 2016. The BMZ's work in South Africa is starting to have an impact: 200 HIV counselling and testing centres mean that there is better access to such services. The centres have been able to boost the quality of the counselling and testing they offer. The number of tests carried out has risen significantly – in companies with HIV workplace programmes 90 per cent of workers take advantage of voluntary HIV tests. In addition, innovative prevention programmes targeting young people have been implemented.
There are 5.6 million people who are infected with HIV living in South Africa, making it the country with the world's highest number of HIV-positive inhabitants. Among 15- to 49-year-olds the HIV infection rate is 16.9 per cent. The high incidence of HIV and AIDS is endangering the country's economic development and social stability. The economically active population in particular is dying young. Average life expectancy is just 52.8 years. Since it is often the family's main breadwinner who gets sick, the AIDS epidemic is threatening the very existence of numerous families. There are 1.9 million AIDS orphans (children under the age of 17). Many children find themselves taking care of sick family members. Their chances of getting an education, their own health and their personal development are all severely compromised.