Activists Hail South Africa AIDS Move
April 19, 2002
After more than two years of despair over South Africa's AIDS policy, activists and critics expressed guarded optimism Thursday over the government's announcement of major changes to its controversial program. The government had argued AIDS drugs were unproven and too toxic to distribute, but the Cabinet endorsed their use Wednesday, saying the drugs could help prolong the lives of some people living with AIDS.Adapted from:
The AIDS drugs remain too costly for the government to give to all infected South Africans, but it planned to pressure drug companies to lower their prices, a Cabinet statement said. The Cabinet also announced plans for a widespread program to use the drug nevirapine to combat transmission of HIV from pregnant women to their children and to give sexual assault victims access to AIDS drugs that may prevent them from becoming infected.
The Treatment Action Campaign said the statement "has given us hope after months of despair." "We can now move past long- settled and time-wasting debates, such as whether HIV causes AIDS and whether antiretrovirals are effective, on to more pertinent matters." The Congress of South African Trade Unions, a government ally that has nonetheless been critical of its AIDS policy, called the change a "victory for logic." "It will save many lives and extend the length and quality of those lives," the labor federation said in a statement.
According to a report released Thursday, nearly 30 percent of South Africa's work force will be infected by 2005. By 2010, 1 million South Africans will be sick with the disease and another 6 million will have already died, according to the report by NMG- Levy Consultants and Actuaries. Women's life expectancy will drop from 54 years in 1999 to 43 in 2005 and 37 in 2010, according to the report.
04.18.02; Ravi Nessman
This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.