South African Health Minister Says De Klerk’s Remarks on Former Government’s Plan To Fight HIV/AIDS ‘Disturbing’
In response to former South African President F.W. de Klerk's comments on Monday that the country's African National Congress government "lost years" in the fight against HIV/AIDS by not implementing a plan drawn up by the former health minister, Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang on Tuesday said in statement that de Klerk's remarks were "disturbing" and accused de Klerk's apartheid-era government of not properly responding to HIV/AIDS during its tenure, the SAPA/News24.com reports (SAPA/News24.com, 10/5). De Klerk on Monday at an annual conference of the National Association of Pharmaceutical Wholesalers in Kleinmond, South Africa, said that the ANC shelved a good action plan from his former Health Minister Rina Venter (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 10/5). Tshabalala-Msimang said that de Klerk's government made "limited interventions" against HIV/AIDS during the early years of the epidemic, the SAPA/Cape Times reports. "De Klerk and the apartheid government failed to take meaningful action to respond to this challenge," Tshabalala-Msimang said (SAPA/Cape Times, 10/6). "The ANC and other organizations outside of government had to lead many efforts in responding to the rapid spread of HIV infection in the early 1990s, with [former President] Nelson Mandela launching the main program in 1992," Tshabalala-Msimang said, the SAPA/Reuters/Star reports. "It was only after 1994 that tangible efforts were made by the government to curb the spread of HIV infection; provide treatment, care and support for those infected and affected; and address the stigma associated with HIV and AIDS," Tshabalala-Msimang said. She added that de Klerk's government contributed to negative stereotypes surrounding HIV/AIDS. "Apartheid's campaigns portrayed HIV and AIDS as a deadly condition associated with improper or unfaithful sexual behavior," Tshabalala-Msimang said, adding, "It was a black man's disease with images of people being buried in black coffins because they had AIDS" (SAPA/Reuters/Star, 10/6).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.