Increased Support for Antiretroviral Treatment in South Africa Needed; Media Should Combat Myths, Opinion Piece Says
Antiretroviral treatment has been "tested and used with success" and has the support of "all major medical organizations and most governments" -- including South Africa's -- despite the criticism and myths surrounding the medications, Neva Makgetla, a Congress of South African Trade Unions economist, writes in an opinion piece in South Africa's Business Day. The "persistence of denialism" and "propaganda against antiretrovirals" exists in the media and in people's approach to the drugs, Makgetla says. The media should "point out where inputs" -- such as letters to editors, opinion pieces and articles -- "misrepresent known facts" about antiretroviral treatment, Makgetla writes. Otherwise, if an HIV-positive person on antiretroviral drugs stops treatment because of information in a newspaper, the media "has a hand in hastening their death," Makgetla says. If antiretrovirals gained more widespread support in South Africa and other developing nations, HIV/AIDS would be treated "as a chronic condition, not a fatal disease," which would help reduce the stigma surrounding the disease, according to Makgetla. More acceptance of the treatment also would provide people with an "incentive to get tested," which might help to slow the spread of HIV and lessen the "burden of fear and pain" for HIV-positive individuals and their families, Makgetla concludes (Makgetla, Business Day, 3/11).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.