New York Times Profiles Zackie Achmat, Head of South Africa’s Treatment Action Campaign
The New York Times on Saturday profiled Zackie Achmat, head of South Africa's AIDS advocacy group Treatment Action Campaign. Achmat, who was diagnosed with HIV in 1990, five years ago vowed to not take antiretroviral medications until the South African government makes the medications available to everyone in the country who is HIV-positive. Achmat said that the estimated five million HIV-positive people living in South Africa "have been rendered 'nameless and faceless' by a government that perpetuates confusion about the origins and magnitude of their disease" and refuses to follow the examples set by other African nations that are publicly providing treatment, according to the Times. Although he has made a pledge to not take antiretroviral drugs even though he can afford them, his friends say that Achmat "struggles to reconcile with death," the Times reports. Some of his closest friends said that no one "ever dreamed" that the government would take so long to provide antiretroviral drugs, and they said that if Achmat dies now, "there is a real chance that his death would not help his cause," according to the Times. "The government won't care one bit if I die," Achmat said, adding, "I don't think it will make a bit of difference in their policy" (Thompson, New York Times, 5/10).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.