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Former Sex and the City star Kristin Davis has just returned from a 4-day Oxfam-sponsored visit to South Africa aimed at raising awareness of the country’s AIDS problem.

It was the second trip to the continent for the Oxfam Global Ambassador, and she took the time to visit community workers and learn about the treatment of HIV/AIDS in rural areas and informal settlements.

“I have been amazed by the incredible strength and energy of South Africa’s community groups in tackling the AIDS epidemic in this country,” said the 42-year-old Emmy Award-nominated star. “People like Mama Grace, who runs a soup kitchen in Soweto for orphans and other vulnerable children, are an incredible tower of strength in South Africa’s uphill response to AIDS. These unsung heroes are pulling together what little food and money they have to provide care to those living with HIV. Oxfam helps support them in this effort. These people are inspirational, but can’t win the battle on their own. These communities need nurses and doctors. These wonderful people are holding up their communities and need our support.”

The World Health Organization estimates that over 400,000 people die of HIV-related illnesses in South Africa every year, and the country has mounted the biggest rollout of HIV treatment in the world, with over 300,000 people receiving anti-retrovirals on the public health system. However, a shortage of doctors, nurses and clinics prevent many people from getting the treatment they need – in one community Davis visited, the nearest clinic is over 80km away, which means people must take a day off work and pay $14 or more for a round trip on public transport to get the treatment they so desperately require.

“The AIDS epidemic does not respect race, class, gender or ethnicity,” said Raymond C. Offenheiser, President of Oxfam America. “But lives can be saved through unique partnerships that support access to medicines, quality health services, and empowered community leadership. Behind the statistics lies a preventable human tragedy that can and must be confronted.”

During her trip, Davis also visited organizations such as Let Us Grow in Orange Farm, Circle of Promise in Soweto, and a HIV and AIDS project in Rustenburg.

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