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AIDS activists demand expansion of national treatment
Saturday 24 September 2005
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SOUTH AFRICA: AIDS activists demand expansion of national treatment


[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]



©  PlusNews

TAC is calling for more people to be out on treatment

JOHANNESBURG, 16 February (PLUSNEWS) - South Africa's AIDS activists once again marched to parliament on Wednesday, launching a campaign to put more HIV-positive people on the national treatment programme.

The AIDS lobby group, Treatment Action Campaign (TAC), will spend the rest of this year campaigning for 200,000 people to be treated with antiretroviral (ARV) drugs in the public sector by the beginning of 2006, and at least 10 percent of them must be children.

Over 5,000 protestors marched through Cape Town to hand over a memorandum to government at the parliament buildings.

"We are demanding that government push to provide treatment for up to 200,000 people by the end of February [2006]. They had promised that about 53,000 people would be receiving it by next month [March 2005] and this hasn't happened," TAC coordinator for the Western Cape Thembeka Majali told PlusNews.

In November 2003 the government committed itself to providing free antiretroviral (ARV) treatment to 53,000 patients by March 2004, and the target date was moved forward a year, to March 2005.

TAC estimates that about 20,000 South Africans living with the virus are currently receiving treatment.

Despite the Western Cape and Gauteng provinces having made significant progress by treating more people than South Africa's seven other provinces combined, TAC stressed that the pace of implementation in the other provinces was too slow.

"The lack of leadership from the National Department of Health remains the most important factor blocking a speedier rollout," the group said in a statement.

But Dr Nomonde Xundu, chief director of the national HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis unit, told PlusNews the government's plans were not "just about putting people on treatment" - their treatment programme encompassed prevention, care and support, as well as strengthening the health system.

"You must remember that we are doing this in a health system which needed a lot of work to be done," she pointed out.

The TAC called for "a large public information campaign encouraging people to get counselled, tested and, where necessary, treated," to achieve the 200,000 target. Treatment also had to be made available on a wider scale, particularly at primary care level, as people were still forced to travel long distances to access medication.

"The procurement tender needs to be finalised," the group noted. "Drug shortages because of inadequate procurement mechanisms continue to affect hospitals and clinics."

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Recent SOUTH AFRICA Reports
Churchmen move towards disclosing their HIV-positive status,  23/Sep/05
New effort to ease community's HIV/AIDS woes,  16/Sep/05
Rural health facilities struggle to provide healthcare,  15/Sep/05
Live theatre shows both positive and negative side of HIV/AIDS,  13/Sep/05
Capacity shortfalls undermine roll-out,  12/Sep/05
Links
Le portail d'informations générales de la Côte d’Ivoire
The Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis & Malaria
AEGIS
Mothers and HIV/AIDS

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