Thousands of South African protesters marched on the U.S. consulate Thursday to demand the U.S. increase its AIDS funding for Africa, weeks after U.S. officials said their biggest AIDS fund would not substantially rise.
The protesters, clad in green T-shirts emblazoned with the words “HIV-Positive,” marched before the consulate in a wealthy northern suburb of Johannesburg to demand that the U.S. government increase its contribution to the Global Fund on AIDS, TB and Malaria to $2.8 billion by 2013.
Protest organizers said the lack of a significant increase in the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief–a major funder of AIDS programs around the world–has led clinics to run out of drugs and forced providers to ration treatment.
South Africa, a nation of about 50 million, has an estimated 5.7 million people infected with HIV, more than any other country. It is the largest recipient of PEPFAR funds.
Protesters also called on the European Union, China, Japan and Canada to increase their AIDS funding and for African nations to meet a previous commitment to increase health spending to 15 percent annually.
Mark Heywood, deputy chairman of the South African National Aids Council, lambasted world leaders for cutting back on AIDS funding in the wake of the global economic crisis.
“The United States must support AIDS treatment and increase AIDS funding to developing countries,” he said.