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CAPE TOWN, South Africa -- The Obama administration is turning over control of a successful anti-AIDS program to South Africa as the government boosts its investment in fighting the deadly disease.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton was presiding Wednesday over the signing of an agreement with South African health officials that will put them in the lead in administering the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief in the country.

The program has spent $3.2 billion on anti-retroviral drugs, other treatments and HIV prevention programs in South Africa since then-President George W. Bush started it in 2004.

The handover will be phased in over five years.

South Africa has the highest HIV infection rate in the world, with 5.7 million people -- 17.8 percent of the population -- testing positive for the virus.

By MATTHEW LEE, Associated Press