South African government delays setting date for AIDS program
Jacob Zuma, deputy president of the South African National AIDS Council, said Saturday that the South African government is still studying how to implement a national antiretroviral drug treatment program, but he did not announce when the plans would be announced, the South African Press Association reports. South African AIDS activists called off an ongoing civil disobedience campaign last spring when government officials said they would examine the feasibility of implementing a nationwide treatment program.
A task force has reported that launching a treatment program through the country's public hospital would cost about $1,100 per person per year, a figure some health officials have said is too high given the nation's limited health care budget. Zuma said government officials are at an "advanced stage of dealing with the task team report.... All of us recognize the urgency [of establishing a treatment program]. We are responsible enough to move as swiftly as possible."
Zuma made the announcement after meeting with the Treatment Action Campaign, an HIV/AIDS activist group that had spearheaded the civil disobedience campaign. Zackie Achmat, TAC chair, said the government is running out of time before the activists prepare to relaunch the campaign. "We really are giving the government its last opportunity," he said.