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U.K. to give South Africa millions of condoms
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U.K. to give South Africa millions of condoms

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

British officials announced on March 9 that they would give South Africa $1.5 million to buy condoms.

The British Department for International Development (DFID) announced the donation at a meeting in London for officials from African countries with high incidence of HIV infection.

DFID said it was "supporting South Africa's leadership and drive to turn the tide on their epidemic."

South Africa says it will need one billion condoms this year, more than twice its usual number, because it is hosting the soccer World Cup in Durban between June 11 and July 11.

It will be the first time an African country has hosted the World Cup. South Africa expects some 450,000 foreigners to attend.

Last month, South African medical official Victor Ramathesele told a conference set up by the soccer organization FIFA that the country was preparing for the influx of visitors.

"There's going to be a large number of people who will be descending on to the country," he said.

"There's going to be a spirit of festivity and & there could be a more than usual demand for measures such as condoms. So there are measures in place to ensure that the condom supply is going to be ramped up during this tournament."

Like many African countries, South Africa is heavily impacted by HIV/AIDS, with an estimated 20% infection rate (compared to 0.6% in the U.S.).

South Africa also leads the world in deaths attributed to AIDS, with 756,000 reported in 2008 (compared to 22,000 in the U.S.).

South Africa's new President Jacob Zuma is credited with reinvigorating his country's response to the epidemic. His predecessor, Thabo Mbeki, denied the link between HIV and AIDS and recommended natural remedies such as beets and garlic in preference to anti-viral drugs.

Zuma has also been criticized by HIV/AIDS activists, however. As a Zulu traditionalist, Zuma is polygamous, and some activists say his sex life sets a bad example for his countrymen.

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