Boston Globe Profiles South Africa’s Treatment Action Campaign Chair Zackie Achmat
The Boston Globe yesterday profiled Zackie Achmat, the "charismatic" chair of the Cape Town, South Africa-based HIV/AIDS treatment advocacy group Treatment Action Campaign. Achmat was diagnosed with HIV in 1990 and developed AIDS in 1997. He has refused to take antiretroviral drugs until the South African government makes them available to the general public. Achmat said, "The government can afford it. In fact, in the first five years of the treatment plan, the government will not need to borrow any money." Nathan Geffen, TAC's national manager, said, "A lot of us think that Zackie is more valuable alive than continuing this strategy [of refusing AIDS drugs]. But it's a personal decision we respect." Many HIV/AIDS advocates consider Achmat a "hero for his stand," the Globe reports. Achmat will not discuss his health condition, but he has been "critically ill at times," and was recently diagnosed with peripheral neuropathy, according to the Globe. Achmat has said about his decision to not take medication, "I think it's dumb. But it's a conscience issue. It's not something I advocate for anyone else" (English, Boston Globe, 4/13). TAC last month held a week-long campaign of nonviolent civil disobedience in South Africa to urge the government to provide HIV/AIDS drugs in public hospitals and clinics. The protest marked the first time in Africa that HIV/AIDS patients broke the law in large numbers to demand treatment (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 3/26).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.