Democratic Alliance Leader Warns that South Africa’s Western Cape Province Could Lose Vertical HIV Transmission Program if ANC Takes Over Government
Democratic Alliance leader Tony Leon warned yesterday that South Africa's Western Cape province could be "turn[ed] into a replica of all the other provinces that pandered to President Thabo Mbeki's bizarre view on AIDS" if the DA loses control of the provincial government, the South African Press Association reports. Leon made his remarks to DA councilors in the Free State at a briefing about the recent split between the DA and the New National Party. The alliance had been the main opposition party to Mbeki's African National Congress, but NNP leaders have now said they will cooperate with the ANC "at all levels of government." Public hospitals in the Western Cape, which is currently controlled by a NNP-DA coalition, provide free antiretroviral drugs to HIV-positive pregnant women to prevent vertical transmission of the virus. The hospitals also provide the drugs to individuals who have been raped as a post-exposure treatment to prevent HIV infection. Those programs are at risk if an ANC-led coalition takes over because of Mbeki's reluctance to provide the drugs at the national level, Leon said. He also recommended that Justice Minister Penuell Maduna study the South African Law Commission's 1999 report, which recommends mandatory HIV testing of all sex offenders, and said that legislation to provide for AIDS orphans should be "fast-tracked" (South African Press Association, 11/7).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.