The U.S. says it’s giving South Africa $120 million for AIDS treatment in response to a plea from President Jacob Zuma that underlines his new approach to fighting the epidemic.

Under Zuma’s predecessor in the country with the world’s heaviest AIDS burden, the health minister promoted beets to treat AIDS. Zuma’s government has set a target of getting 80 per cent of those who need AIDS drugs on them by 2011.

U.S. Ambassador Donald Gips said Tuesday the $120 million for AIDS drugs, to be disbursed over two years, “is in direct response to the government of South Africa’s request.”

Gips was to formally announce the funding at a ceremony later Tuesday, World AIDS Day, at which Zuma is scheduled to give an eagerly awaited speech on AIDS.

More In: International | News