New National Party Member Sworn in as Premier of South Africa’s Western Cape, Supports HIV/AIDS Link
Peter Marais, former mayor of Cape Town and a member of the New National Party, was sworn in yesterday as premier of South Africa's Western Cape province in a power-sharing deal made with the ruling African National Congress and immediately voiced his support for anti-AIDS efforts, Agence France-Presse reports. In his inaugural address, Marais said that "HIV causes AIDS, full stop," a statement that appears to "sho[w] little caution" for the views of South African President Thabo Mbeki, who is a member of the ANC and has repeatedly questioned the causal link between HIV and AIDS. Marais called on the ANC government to make antiretroviral drugs more widely available. The government has argued against distribution of the drugs, saying they are too expensive and that the country lacks the health infrastructure needed to dispense and monitor the drugs (Agence France-Presse, 12/5). The NNP recently split with the opposition Democratic Alliance to join the ANC. Many AIDS activists and Democratic Alliance members feared that relinquishing D.A. control of the Western Cape would hinder the province's HIV/AIDS efforts. Western Cape provides AIDS drugs to pregnant women and rape survivors (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 11/14).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.