And President Jacob Zuma, who recently admitted to having unprotected sex with a much younger woman, on Sunday inaugurated a campaign to test 15 million of the country’s 49 million people for H.I.V. by June 2011.
A photograph of his personal doctor drawing blood from Mr. Zuma’s arm for an H.I.V. test on April 8 appeared in newspapers across the country. And on Sunday, in a speech at a hospital east of Johannesburg, he disclosed that his fourth test again showed he was negative and said he made the result public “to eradicate the silence and stigma that accompanies this epidemic.” To hoots and laugher from the audience, and with a touch of humor, Mr. Zuma said, “I’m sure South Africans know I’m open about my life generally.”
Michel Sidibé, executive director of Unaids, the United Nations AIDS agency, said South Africa’s undertakings offered hope to the continent. “It’s the first time one country has scaled up so quickly, to so many people,” he said.
South Africa, the region’s richest nation and a symbol of democracy, has an estimated 5.7 million H.I.V.-positive citizens, more than any other country.
“In my village, when we want to kill the snake, we don’t hit the tail, but the head,” said Mr. Sidibé, who is from Mali. “The head of this epidemic is South Africa.”
The South African Finance Ministry said it expected that the broadened access to drugs would put a million more people on treatment in the next few years, roughly doubling the current case load. It has budgeted an extra $1 billion for it. Dr. Motsoaledi said Mr. Zuma reopened the budget to get more money for AIDS when it became clear that costs would be higher.