Mandela Attends Second ‘46664’ HIV/AIDS Awareness Concert in South Africa
Former South African President Nelson Mandela on Saturday at the second "46664" HIV/AIDS awareness concert told the crowd of about 20,000 people that the disease now "carries the face of women," the AP/USA Today reports (Nullis, AP/USA Today, 3/19). The concert, which was held at the Fancourt Hotel, Country Club and Golf Estate in George, South Africa, featured U.S. actor Will Smith as host and 150 local and international musicians. The musical group Queen, whose original lead singer, Freddie Mercury, died of AIDS-related complications in 1991, spearheaded the concert. The first 46664 concert was held in Cape Town, South Africa, in December 2003 to benefit Mandela's 46664 campaign -- named for his prison number during his nearly 20-year incarceration at the South African prison on Robben Island. Mandela in January in an effort to reduce the stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS announced that his son Makgatho had died of AIDS-related causes (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 2/22). In his speech, Mandela compared the experience of his incarceration on Robben Island to that of women living with HIV/AIDS, the AP/USA Today reports. "Today there are millions of women in Africa living on their own Robben Islands, struggling against terrible odds, alone and often without much hope," he said, adding, "Tonight, you and I can say we are here to help give you hope and strength" (AP/USA Today, 3/19). Mandela also said, "Women don't only bear the burden of HIV infection, they also bear the burden of HIV care. Grandmothers are looking after children. Women are caring for their dying husbands. Children are looking after dying parents and surviving siblings" (Sunday Mail, 3/20). Mandela, who is 86 and last year announced his retirement from public life, added, "I would love to enjoy the peace and quiet of retirement, but I know that like many of you, I cannot rest easily while our beloved country is ravaged by a deadly epidemic" (Bell, Reuters, 3/19). The benefit raised $1.6 million, according to Mandela (BBC News, 3/20).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.