Human Rights Watch Asks Mbeki to ‘Take Urgent Action’ in Fight Against HIV/AIDS
New York-based Human Rights Watch last week sent a letter to South African President Thabo Mbeki, calling on him to "take urgent action" in the fight against the HIV/AIDS epidemic "sweeping" his country, the Associated Press reports. Mbeki has been widely criticized for his skepticism about the causal link between HIV and AIDS and for his government's refusal to provide antiretrovirals to pregnant women to prevent vertical transmission. The Human Rights Watch said in its letter, "The continued refusal of your government to ... support the provision of the low-cost treatment for prevention of mother-to-child transmission, along with public statements that sow confusion about the scientific basis for HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment programs, are acts of injustice against your people." The letter also stated that while "many governments [are] guilty of inaction" in fighting AIDS, South Africa "has gone one step further by actively undermining proven AIDS treatments." In addition, the letter requested that South Africa drop its opposition to a lawsuit by the Treatment Action Campaign to make AIDS drugs available to HIV-positive pregnant women. For its part, the government has "repeatedly" stated its response to AIDS "has been appropriate" (Associated Press, 11/21).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.