Hans-Jürgen Beerfeltz and Charlize Theron want to join forces in fighting HIV and AIDS in South Africa

from Government of Germany
Published on 09 Feb 2013 View Original

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.