Mbeki’s State of the Nation Address Not Expected to Include Discussion of HIV/AIDS
Political observers expect that South African President Thabo Mbeki's state of the nation address scheduled for tomorrow will not include any mention of the "key challenge" of HIV/AIDS, Reuters reports. They expect Mbeki, who is thought to have "silently dropped his hardline resistance to the use of antiretroviral drugs" to reduce vertical HIV transmission, to nevertheless "remain mute" on the subject during the speech, which will mark the opening of the 2002 session of the South African parliament. Although he may no longer personally oppose the drugs, which he once called "too expensive and potentially dangerous," Mbeki is not expected to "publicly reverse" his position on antiretrovirals any time soon. However, the omission "should be seen as good news" by AIDS activists who do not want to "force Mbeki into an embarrassing climbdown," Reuters reports (Boyle, Reuters, 2/6). Activists recently won a lawsuit seeking to require the national health system to provide nevirapine to all HIV-positive pregnant women to reduce the risk of mother-to-child HIV transmission. However, the government is appealing the decision, citing concerns over judicial involvement in matters of national policy (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 2/1).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.