Mining Company Calls on South African Government to Provide AIDS Treatment Plan
South African mining conglomerate Anglo American, which announced earlier this month that it will provide free antiretroviral treatment to its HIV-positive employees in Southern Africa, on Friday called on the South African government to provide treatment for individuals with HIV/AIDS, the Guardian reports. According to the Guardian, a spokesperson for the mining company suggested that the government was "dragging its heels" regarding the supply of antiretroviral drugs, saying, "We need the government to come to the party. We can't tackle the whole AIDS issue as a single company." Anglo administrators on Friday also denied the South African government's claims that the company kept government officials "in the dark" about the treatment plan. South African Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang on Friday said that the company had not notified her about its plan, which she said will "leav[e] the government with an obligation to pick up the bill" when employees become too sick to work. A spokesperson for Anglo responded that the company had already revealed its HIV/AIDS treatment plan to the government prior to announcing its intentions publicly. "We were in contact with the government during the process of formulating our AIDS strategy," she stated, adding, "The minister of health, among others, was sent a letter and a copy of our announcement ahead of its release to the public" (Finch, Guardian, 8/17). An estimated 23% of Anglo's workforce -- or 18,000 people -- is HIV-positive (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 8/16). Anglo American has not disclosed the estimated cost of its free treatment program, but the company is in negotiations with GlaxoSmithKline to buy reduced price antiretroviral drugs in bulk (Guardian, 8/17).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.