AIDS Advocates Encouraged by South African President Mbeki’s Visit to HIV/AIDS Clinic
AIDS advocates said they were encouraged by South African President Thabo Mbeki's visit over the weekend to a Johannesburg clinic that supplies antiretroviral drugs to HIV-positive women and their infants to reduce the risk of vertical HIV transmission, London's Guardian reports. The visit reportedly marked the "first time Mbeki had signaled approval for antiretrovirals in such a way," according to the Guardian (Carroll, Guardian, 10/21). Mbeki has been criticized for publicly questioning the causal link between HIV and AIDS. His administration had resisted a court order to distribute the drug nevirapine to all HIV-positive pregnant women through the public health service due to concerns about the drug's safety and efficacy, but recently stated that it would move ahead with a nationwide roll out (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 10/11). Treatment Action Campaign Chair Zackie Achmat welcomed Mbeki's visit, saying, "It was PR, but it was a fairly substantive move. It was a sign that they are serious about changing the policy. We are very cautiously optimistic" (Guardian, 10/21).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.