Los Angeles Times Examines HIV/AIDS Treatment, Stigma in South Africa
The Los Angeles Times on Wednesday examined HIV/AIDS treatment and care in South Africa, saying that many HIV-positive people do not have access to antiretroviral drugs through the government's treatment plan and instead rely on prayer and unproven remedies to treat their disease. Although the African National Congress 10 years ago when it took power promised a comprehensive HIV/AIDS treatment policy, the government only recently announced a program, the Times reports. AIDS-related illnesses are the leading cause of death in South Africa, and the country has more HIV-positive residents than any other country in the world. The stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS in South Africa sometimes can cause families to reject HIV-positive relatives, children to tease their ill parents and HIV-positive spouses to conceal their status from each other, according to health care workers in the townships of Soweto, Vosloorus and Tembisa, the Times reports. Many AIDS advocates "believe that without strong government leadership and politicians who are willing to discuss the problem openly, it will be difficult to change the mentality" that allows such stigma, according to the Times. Pumphile Ngcobo, an HIV-positive woman who lives in Vosloorus, said that the government's treatment plan has come too late for many people. "The government delayed it. They made excuses that they could not afford to treat the people," she said, adding, "They weren't concentrating on saving lives. They took their own time and it took too long" (Dixon, Los Angeles Times, 5/26).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.