South African Police Arrest AIDS Advocates Protesting High Antiretroviral Drug Costs
South African police yesterday arrested 53 members of the National Association of People Living With AIDS during a protest over the high cost of antiretroviral drugs held at the head office of the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers' Association in Midrand, the South African Press Association reports (South African Press Association, 4/22). The demonstration was part of NAPWA's "Black Easter Campaign" designed to intensify efforts to convince pharmaceutical companies to provide free antiretroviral drugs in the country (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 4/17). Superintendent Eugene Opperman said that the demonstrators were arrested for trespassing and spray-painting graffiti on walls during the demonstration and will be charged with malicious damage to property, trespassing and organizing an illegal gathering. Opperman said that the protest was illegal because NAPWA did not give written notice of the demonstration to local officials seven days prior to the gathering and the organizers did not take "all reasonable steps" to ensure that property was not damaged, according to SAPA. Thanduxolo Doro, NAPWA's deputy director, said that the campaign would continue, adding, "If the PMA does not respond positively to our demands, NAPWA will intensify the struggle and put pressure on the pharmaceutical companies by involving our communities in consumer boycotts and forcefully entering all the premises of pharmaceutical companies" (South African Press Association, 4/22).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.