AIDS Advocates End ‘Black Christmas’ Hunger Strike Outside South Africa Offices of GlaxoSmithKline
AIDS advocates from the National Association of People Living with HIV/AIDS yesterday ended a hunger strike that started on Christmas day outside the Midrand offices of GlaxoSmithKline in Gauteng province, after the South African Department of Social Development urged the protestors to call off the second stage of the strike, the South African Press Association reports. The strike -- the original phase of which ended on Tuesday -- is part of the group's "Black Christmas" campaign that demands that pharmaceutical companies and the South African government provide antiretroviral drugs free of charge; that banks and insurance companies cease discriminating against HIV-positive people; and that the government allocate social grants more uniformly. Dr. Maria Mabetoa, director of HIV/AIDS in the Social Development Department, said, "It is unfortunate that NAPWA had to embark on a hunger strike when the process of addressing some of the legitimate issues they are raising was already underway. Part of the process includes extensive consultation with all the role players including NAPWA, in order to develop a comprehensive and sustainable program of assistance for people with HIV/AIDS." The strike was renewed on Wednesday night when three NAPWA members began a second phase of the strike (South African Press Association, 1/2). Some of the advocates, many of whom are HIV-positive, were taken to the hospital with diarrhea, stomach cramps and opportunistic infections (WMRC Daily Analysis, 1/2).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.