Edward Mavundla, a founding member of the South African AIDS activist group Treatment Action Campaign, died Wednesday of AIDS-related causes in Johannesburg. He was 36. Mavundla had been treated for tuberculosis, pneumonia, and kidney failure. He was not able to afford HIV antiretroviral medications, and the South African government does not provide them in the country.
Before he died, Mavundla made a plea in support of TAC. "I am urging the people all over the world to support TAC to show solidarity with South Africa--we [the HIV-positive] are dying. People must support TAC because the government is dragging its feet for four years. We want ordinary people in South Africa to have these antiretrovirals. It is no good for me to be on antiretrovirals and my friends on the ground are dying."
The Congress of South African Trade Unions, a group that supports TAC, issued a statement saying, "The best way to remember [Mavundla] will be for the campaign to be taken to new heights and more and more pressure exerted on government and business to sign an agreement on a national HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment plan and to make sure that it is implemented as fast as possible. Let there be no more unnecessary deaths."