Founding Member of Treatment Action Campaign Edward Mavundla Dies
Edward Mavundla, 36, a founding member of the Cape Town, South Africa-based HIV/AIDS treatment advocacy group Treatment Action Campaign, died on Wednesday from AIDS-related causes in Johannesburg, the South African Press Association reports. A supply of antiretroviral medicines had been secured for Mavundla last week, but Mavundla's CD4+ T cell count had fallen to below 20, and he was being treated for tuberculosis, pneumonia and kidney failure. In order to have started antiretroviral therapy, he would have had to recover from the TB infection, SAPA reports. On his deathbed, Mavundla made a plea for support for TAC, saying, "I am urging the people all over the world to support TAC to show solidarity with South Africa -- we (the HIV-positive) are dying." He added, "People must support TAC because the government is dragging its feet for four years. TAC is negotiating with the government to implement a national treatment plan. We want ordinary people in South Africa to have these antiretrovirals. It is no good for me to be on antiretrovirals and my friends on the ground are dying." Zwelinzima Vavi, the general secretary of the Congress of South African Trade Unions, and HIV/AIDS advocates on Wednesday arrived at the hospital to visit Mavundla but were told that he had died one hour earlier, according to SAPA. Vavi said, "It is difficult news, as I find myself connected to (Mavundla). ... [A]ll the people who started TAC are now all almost gone" (South African Press Association, 4/9). COSATU said in a statement that Mavundla's "personal tragedy highlights the hundreds of other tragedies experienced by people living with HIV/AIDS. He should not have died. He is one of hundreds whose lives could have been saved if they had had access to antiretroviral medicines at an earlier stage." The group added, "The best way to remember [Mavundla] will be for the campaign to be taken to new heights and more and more pressure exerted on government and business to sign the draft [National Economic Development and Labor Council] agreement on a national HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment plan and to make sure that it is implemented as fast as possible. Let there be no more unnecessary deaths!" (COSATU statement, 4/9).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.