U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says Washington has begun transferring control of an anti-AIDS program to South Africa, which has the world's highest rate of HIV infection.
Clinton made the announcement Wednesday during a speech at the University of the Western Cape on the outskirts of Cape Town. She said the agreement is a "major step" in South Africa's fight against the virus.
The U.S. limited access to HIV/AIDS funding to the government of South Africa during the administration of former President Thabo Mbeki, who denied there was a link between HIV and AIDS and rejected internationally recognized treatments for the disease.
Washington has spent $3.2 billion since 2004 on the South Africa HIV/AIDS program. Though the country has made advances in slowing the infection rate, more than 17 percent of the country has tested positive for the virus.
Clinton, who is on a four-day visit to South Africa, met Tuesday with senior South African officials in the capital of Pretoria, where she called for deeper ties between South Africa and the United States.
Following her stay in South Africa, Clinton travels to Nigeria, Ghana and Benin. The trip has already taken her to Senegal, Uganda, South Sudan, Kenya and Malawi. She has largely focused on security and increased U.S. trade and investment during her 11-day tour.
Human Rights Watch on Wednesday called on Clinton to press Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan to address a rising trend of violence in northern and central Nigeria when she visits the country this week.
The group said much of the violence has been initiated by the Islamist militant group Boko Haram. But it also said Nigerian security forces have rounded up hundreds of people and routinely detained them without charge or trial.
Photo Gallery: Hillary Clinton's Africa Tour
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Secretary of State Hillary Clinton greets Kofi Annan and his wife Nane Lagergren at the funeral of Ghana President John Atta Mills, in Accra, Ghana, August 10, 2012.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, left, meets with Ghana's President John Dramani Mahama, at his residence in Accra, Ghana, August 9, 2012.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at a clinic at Delft township on the outskirts of Cape Town, South Africa, August 8, 2012.
South Africa's Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi, left, and Hillary Clinton visit the Delft South Clinic in Delft South, a suburb of Cape Town, South Africa, August 8, 2012.
Hillary Clinton meets with former South Africa President Nelson Mandela and his wife Graca Machel at his home in Qunu, South Africa, August 6, 2012.
Hillary Clinton and South Africa's Foreign Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane see a rare snow flurry as they leave business meetings in Pretoria, South Africa, August 7, 2012.
Hillary Clinton walks out with African Union Chair-Designate Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma after their meeting at Brynterion Estate in Pretoria, South Africa, August 7, 2012.
Hillary Clinton dances with Emille Phiri, chair of the Lumbadzi Milk Bulking Group, Lilongwe, Malawi, August 5, 2012.
Hillary Clinton meets with Malawi's President Joyce Banda at the State House in Lilongwe, Malawi, August 5, 2012.
Kenya's President Mwai Kibaki, with Hillary Clinton (R) and his vice president Kalonzo Musyoka (L), leaves after a meeting at State House in Nairobi August 4, 2012.
Hillary Clinton is met by Uganda's Foreign Affairs Minister Okello Oryem upon arrival at Entebbe International Airport, August 3, 2012.
Hillary Clinton shakes hands with Bishop Elias Taban in Juba August 3, 2012.
Hillary Clinton meets with South Sudan President Salva Kiir, August 3, 2012, at the Presidential Office Building in Juba.
Hillary Clinton, accompanied by President Macky Sall, speaks at the Presidential Palace in Dakar, August 1, 2012.
Hillary Clinton shakes hands with staff from the U.S. Embassy in Dakar, August 1, 2012.
The shadow of Hillary Clinton on a Senegalese flag before she spoke at the University of Cheikh Anta Diop in Dakar, Senegal, August 1, 2012.
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