Treatment Action Campaign Leads Protest To Demand South African Government Provide AIDS Drugs to 200,000 by 2006
The South African HIV/AIDS advocacy group Treatment Action Campaign on Wednesday led about 2,000 people in a march outside the South African Parliament in Cape Town to demand that the government provide antiretroviral drugs at no cost to 200,000 HIV-positive people in the country by 2006, AFP/Melbourne Herald Sun reports (AFP/Melbourne Herald Sun, 2/17). The South African Cabinet in November 2003 approved an HIV/AIDS treatment plan that aims to provide antiretroviral drugs to 1.2 million people -- or about 25% of the country's HIV-positive population -- at low or no cost by 2008. South African President Thabo Mbeki's African National Congress party in 2004 promised that 53,000 HIV-positive people would receive antiretroviral treatment under the program by next month (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 2/11). South Africa's Department of Health figures show that by October 2004, fewer than 20,000 people in the country were receiving antiretroviral drugs from the government, according to a TAC newsletter (TAC newsletter, 2/10). "This year is the make-or-break year for the ARV program," TAC National Manager Nathan Geffen said, adding, "If we don't get a substantial increase in the numbers of people on ARVs this year, then the program will be in serious trouble" (Bell, Reuters, 2/16). "There is no decent word said in parliament about the deaths caused by AIDS," TAC Chair Zackie Achmat said, adding, "We are proud about our 10 years of democracy, but if we want our next 10 years of democracy to be good we need to wake up to AIDS" (AFP/Melbourne Herald Sun, 2/17). Thembeka Majoli, a provincial coordinator for TAC, said that the group also is demanding that the government provide information about HIV/AIDS to people in rural areas, South Africa's Cape Argus reports (Cape Argus, 2/17).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.