One-Fifth of S. African Military HIV-Positive; Defense Minister Says Statistics Cause "No Alarm"
October 8, 2003
More than one-fifth of South Africa's military is infected with HIV, but Defence Minister Mosiuoa Lekota said that the high prevalence should cause "no alarm," the AP/Los Angeles Times reports. Lekota estimated that HIV prevalence in the military is between 20% and 22% and said that the government is working to reduce the number of HIV infections. Lekota added that supporters of the former apartheid regime are trying to destabilize the government by saying that the military is "ravaged" by HIV/AIDS, according to the AP/Times. "All of this noise every day about HIV/AIDS and so on that suggest that this country is about to collapse as a result of HIV/AIDS are really unfounded," Lekota said (AP/Los Angeles Times, 10/8). AIDS activists called Lekota's picture of the military's situation "irresponsible and misleading," according to the Associated Press. "It is disappointing for a person who is chairman of the ANC and minister of a department most affected by AIDS to say something as irresponsible as this," Pholokgolo Ramothwala of the South African HIV/AIDS treatment advocacy organization Treatment Action Campaign said, adding, "As a minister he should be leading the fight against HIV, yet he is misleading the country."
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