Anglican Archbishop Says South Africa's AIDS Policy Is a Sin
January 28, 2002
On Friday, the Anglican archbishop of Cape Town said in prepared remarks that the South African government's refusal to provide medication that could prevent the spread of HIV was a sin. "When government stands in the way of our right to life, then government has overstepped its boundaries," Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane said, according to a copy of speech he was to deliver obtained by the South African Press Association. "Withholding truth and maintaining the silence of denial is sinful." Ndungane urged the government to support the use of medicine to help prevent the spread of AIDS from mothers to their children during labor and to help prevent women who were raped from being infected. "We invite our government into a partnership for life, rather than a confrontation over death," he said.
The government has come under increasing pressure to provide medication to HIV-positive pregnant mothers that would reduce the chances the deadly virus would be transmitted to their babies. President Thabo Mbeki has also come under criticism for entertaining the theories of scientists who doubt the existence of AIDS and for questioning statistics that show AIDS is the country's largest killer.
"The continuing policy of silence and denial, which withholds life itself, is unacceptable," Ndungane said in the speech, scheduled to be delivered at a ceremony opening the new facility for the HIV research unit at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto. "It violates our Constitution, which guarantees life to all citizens, and for which many have already died in the struggle for freedom," he said.
This article was provided by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update. Visit the CDC's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.