loveLife sponsor pledges R100m a year

By Roshila Pillay

The government this week announced a R375-million partnership with the United States foundation behind loveLife, the biggest national HIV-prevention programme for youth in the world. 

The US-based Kaiser Family Foundation has pledged R100-million a year for three years and the government R25-million a year. 

The foundation, which has been active in health programmes in South Africa for 13 years, was instrumental in the launching of loveLife in September 1999. The prime objective of loveLife is to reduce the rate of HIV infection among 15 to 20 year olds by at least 50 percent over five years. 

Drew Altman, the president of the foundation, and Manto Tshabala-Msimang, the health minister, signed a memorandum at a dinner in Johannesburg on Wednesday. The partnership will be ratified in three months with a formal, legally binding agreement. 

The move was lauded by Jacob Zuma, the deputy president, on Thursday when he announced the deal at the launch of a loveLife youth centre, known as a Y-centre, in Mandeni in KwaZulu-Natal. It was the seventh of 15 planned Y-centres to be launched since 1999. 

Zuma described the partnership as a considerable undertaking and said loveLife was a hugely creative, rather daring and audacious initiative. 

"LoveLife has the capacity to change the attitudes and behaviour of the youth in ways that we are convinced will help foster a culture of caring and support, he said. 

Zuma, who heads the South African National Aids Council, said that the partnership had been announced in the Mandeni area to highlight the government's serious concern about the scale and ferocity [with which] HIV-Aids is engulfing our rural communities and youth in those communities.

Source: The Sunday Independent, 21 July 2001