Nelson Mandela, South African Medical Association Launch HIV/AIDS Treatment Program
The South African Medical Association and the Nelson Mandela Foundation on Tuesday launched an HIV/AIDS treatment program designed to provide free antiretroviral therapy to 9,000 patients at 18 sites nationwide, SAPA/SABCNews.com reports. The program, which will be named Tshepang -- meaning "to have hope" -- after the infant who survived a rape last year, is expected to cost an estimated $8.7 million, money that the association hopes to raise from national and international sponsors. Public-sector patients who could not otherwise afford antiretroviral therapy will receive the medications through health care workers in their area who have been trained in HIV/AIDS care (SAPA/SABCNews.com, 12/3). Speaking at the launch of the program, former South African President Nelson Mandela, who will act as a patron of the program, said that "concrete action" is needed to address the HIV/AIDS epidemic (Associated Press, 12/3). During his address, Mandela also praised Zackie Achmat, head of the Treatment Action Campaign, who vowed in 1999 to forgo treatment for his HIV infection as a show of solidarity with people who did not have access to the drugs. Calling Achmat a "role model and national hero," Mandela said, "Give me as an old man your promise that you will now take your medicine." Achmat reportedly said, "As soon as I can" (SAPA/SABCNews.com, 12/3).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.