President of South Sudan commits to strengthening the country's response to HIVListen /
“We won the battle for the independence of South Sudan. We will also win the war against HIV," the President of South Sudan, Salva Kiir Mayardit told UNAIDS Deputy Executive Director, Programme, Luiz Loures in South Sudan's capital Juba.
President Kiir said "I have made this my priority. I want to keep my people safe at all costs.”
He reaffirmed his commitment to expand HIV programmes in the country.
Efforts are in particular need of scaling up in the country's response to HIV. In 2012, an estimated 150,000 people were living with HIV in South Sudan and just 9% people who were eligible for treatment under the World Health Organization's 2010 guidelines had access to lifesaving antiretroviral therapy. Only 13% of pregnant women living with HIV had access to services to prevent transmission of the virus to their child and AIDS-related deaths have almost doubled since 2001––from 6,900––to 13,000 in 2012.
South Sudan gained independence from Sudan in 2011 following a 30-year civil war that claimed the lives of over 2.5 million people. The country is now entering a challenging transition period––from war to peace and development.
Dr Loures commended the government for its commitment to creating a healthy and productive nation.
He said "These efforts are a testament to the resilience of the South Sudanese people and a clear sign of their desire to achieve a viable independent state."
Donn Bobb, United Nations.