South African AIDS Policy: a turnaround in sight?

Apparently the Toronto debacle is finally beginning to have an effect on local AIDS policy. Since Manto has been unofficially gagged and Deputy President Pumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka has been made the official government spokesperson, policy seems to be changing.

Mlambo-Ngcuka has extended a hand to previously denounced AIDS organizations and activists, and has met with specialists with whom the government previously refused to consult. Said the deputy president:

We must tighten up so that ARV drugs are more accessible, especially to the poor. Education and prevention of HIV infection must be scaled up. Our people want us to unite on this issue in the best interests of the health and wellbeing of our nation. Working together we can defeat this disease.

According to TAC leader Zachie Achmat:

This is a serious, significant change. The government wants to work with us, not against us. By increasing the availability of drugs, particularly for preventing mother to child transmission, the government is going to save lives.

My opinion? It might be a turnaround, it might be so much political posturing in the face of international pressure. I’ll believe it when I see real results. But at the very least, the official word is no longer that ARVs are toxic, that HIV doesn’t cause AIDS, and that nutrition can replace medication. And regarding alternative remedies, she says that the government has “started the process of putting these so-called remedies under scientific scrutiny”.

It’s a start.

3 Responses to “South African AIDS Policy: a turnaround in sight?”

  1. As you say – a start, but a lot easier to believe when all the hot air translates into action.

  2. Dunno if you remember that particular gem concerning some fraudsters claiming to be able to find a missing person through remotely sequencing their DNA using satellites and GPS? It’s not that the hoax was that original, it was the fact that SABC 2 aired a progamme on TV about this breakthrough new technology, that was particularly horrifying.

    Here’re some people who got burned: http://www.theherald.co.za/herald/news/n05_01112006.htm

  3. Sounds like damage control to me in the face of all the kak Manto caused internationally.
    Whether it is mere window dressing remains to be seen. Our government is not known for following through on their promises. A far bigger sign of how serious they are would be to sack Manto.

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