South African government condemns AIDS activist group
BY Advocate.com Editors
July 19 2003 12:00 AM ET
The South African government on Wednesday accused the HIV/AIDS activist group Treatment Action Campaign of "opportunism" and for obstructionist behavior after the group was revealed to have leaked a government HIV treatment report to the media and other groups, AllAfrica.com reports. The report indicated that if the government were to launch a full-scale HIV treatment program now, the lives of more than 1.7 million HIV-positive South Africans could be saved by the end of the decade. The report also showed that establishing such a program would cost about $2.2 billion per year. "There is no need for theatrics in dealing with the matter of HIV and AIDS," government spokesman Joel Netshitenzhe told the Internet-based news site about TAC circulating the unreleased the report.
TAC members said they leaked the report because it had been unreleased since its completion in early May and they believed the Health Ministry did not plan to make it public. But government officials said the delay was due to last-minute checking to ensure that it was "complete and has integrity in all areas," said Netshitenzhe. South Africa has the world's largest number of HIV-positive people, with about 5 million of the nation's citizens infected with the virus. The vast majority of HIV-positive South Africans do not receive anti-HIV medications because they can't afford them and because the government does not have a treatment program in place.