South African Groups Claim Broken Government Pledges
South African HIV/AIDS activist groups have alleged that the government has broken its own pledges on bringing treatment to the country's estimated 9.1mn sufferers. The Treatment Action Campaign notes that the government's arguments for "different strategies" to treat the disease have encouraged the entry of fraudulent and dubious treatments. Meanwhile, political opposition groups claim that the rollout of conventional treatment is failing to meet a series of constantly shifting targets.
Although the government finally endorsed universal provision of ARV drugs in November 2003, official treatment programmes have only reached 40,000 people, well below even the government's somewhat low target of 50,000. Officials admit that access is difficult in rural areas, and reports claim that sufferers can be refused treatment if they fail to exhibit physical symptoms of the disease.
It will be hoped that active measures to combat the disease, which have included
a multimillion dollar tender for HIV/AIDS generics, will begin to filter through.
With 122 clinics across South Africa now dispensing the drugs, the main obstacle
appears to be bringing the entire government, and the population, into line
with internationally accepted views on treatment for the disease.