This is an archive of the Treatment Action Campaign's public documents from December 1998 until October 2008. I created this website because the TAC's website appears unmaintained and people were concerned that it
was becoming increasingly hard to find important documents.

The menu items have been slightly edited and a new stylesheet applied to the site. But none of the documents have been edited, not even for minor errors. The text appears on this site as obtained from the Internet Archive.

The period covered by the archive encompassed the campaign for HIV medicines, the civil disobedience campaigns, the Competition Commission complaints, the 2008 xenophobic violence and the PMTCT, Khayelitsha health workers and Matthias Rath court cases.


Frequently Asked Questions




Questions about TAC

When was TAC started?

TAC was started on the 10th of December 1998.

What are the objectives of TAC?

TAC's objectives are as follows:
Highlight disparities and problems in access to treatment and campaign to have them eliminated, with particular emphasis on HIV/AIDS.
Highlight problems with South Africa's health-care infrastructure and campaign to have them eliminated.
Educate ourselves and the public about treating HIV.
Educate people about how to live healthier and better with HIV/AIDS.

How is TAC trying to achieve its objectives?

TAC is conducting a number of campaigns. You can find out more about these on the activity.htmActivities web page.

How do I join TAC?

TAC does not have an official membership list. However, the organisation is in constant need of volunteers to help with the enormous workload. See the Contact Uscontact.htm web page for details on how to contact one of the TAC offices.

Is TAC concerned only with HIV health-care issues?

TAC's primary focus is definitely health-care issues affecting people with HIV in South Africa. However, the organisation is concerned about other epidemics as well, such as Tuberculosis (TB). At the moment, the extent of the HIV epidemic consumes all our resources, but in the future we will make an effort to highlight other issues.

Questions about HIV/AIDS

How do we know that HIV causes AIDS?

The evidence is overwhelming. Over a period of time, usually between 2 and 10 years, the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) destroys an infected person's immune system. Once the immune system becomes sufficiently weak, the infected person is prone to being attacked by opportunistic diseases. There are many opportunistic diseases, including, but not limited to, TB, cryptococcal meningitis, PCP and Karposi Sarcoma. The immune systems of healthy people can fight off many of the diseases which attack people with HIV, but if left untreated, they can often be fatal or de-habilitating for people with HIV. When the immune system has deteriorated very badly and the infected person regularly falls ill with opportunistic diseases, the person is said to have Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS). For an excellent explanation of the evidence that HIV causes AIDS, see Scientific American Article sciam.htm. For a detailed and more complicated explanation, see NIH article nihart.doc.

Someone who claims that HIV does not cause AIDS is referred to as an AIDS denialist or dissident. The arguments of the denialists have been discredited.

How serious is the HIV epidemic in South Africa?

It is the biggest health-care crisis to face this country, or this part of the continent, in modern times. In 1999, a survey conducted by the Department of Health showed that 22.4% of pregnant women who attended public antenatal clinics tested positive for HIV. Using mathematical models, the government has estimated that over 4 million South Africans are infected with HIV. The insurance industry has reached similar conclusions.

Is HIV a death sentence?

TAC campaigns against the view that HIV is a death sentence. If left untreated, HIV almost always leads to AIDS. Poor nutrition and health usually exacerbate the situation. Eventually the opportunistic infections associated with AIDS lead to death. There is no cure for HIV, but there are treatments available which cure the opportunistic diseases associated with HIV and there are treatments called anti-retrovirals which either slow or stop the virus from reproducing. People who have access to these treatments can live much longer, healthier lives. In the United States and Europe, where anti-retroviral treatments are widely available, fewer HIV-positive people are dying of AIDS every year. HIV has become a manageable disease similar to diabetes.

What are the anti-retroviral medications?

There are three groups of anti-retroviral medication: nucleoside analogues (nukes), non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (non-nukes) and protease inhibitors. The following table lists the different drugs available within each group:
Drug Type
Delavirdine mesylate (DLV) non-nuke
Efavirenz non-nuke
Nevirapine (NVP) non-nuke
Abacavir (ABC) nuke
Didanosine (ddI) nuke
Lamivudine (3TC) nuke
Lamivudine/Zidovudine in one combination drug nuke
Stavudine (d4T) nuke
Zalcitabine (ddC) nuke
Zidovudine (AZT) nuke
Amprenavir protease inhibitor
Indinavir protease inhibitor
Nelfinavir mesylate protease inhibitor
Ritonavir protease inhibitor
Saquinavir Soft Gel Capsule protease inhibitor

What is triple-drug therapy?

Triple-drug therapy, also known as combination therapy is the name given to the regimen that people with HIV have to take when they start anti-retroviral therapy. Ideally, one needs to take three anti-retroviral drugs to combat the virus effectively, though it is possible to take two. Taking one drug only is not good (see [*]).

Are anti-retroviral drugs dangerous?

Most medications are dangerous, even aspirin if taken in a sufficiently large quantity is fatal. Anti-retroviral medications can be dangerous. They have numerous side-effects. However, the consequences of not taking them are far more serious and almost always fatal.

What is drug resistance?

For many people, the anti-retroviral drugs only work for a temporary period (usually a few years). After that, a mutated form of the virus develops in the body which cannot be controlled by the medication. When this happens, the virus is said to be resistant to the drug regimen and the patient must switch to another drug regimen. By adhering to their treatment regimens strictly, people with HIV can use the medications much longer before drug resistance occurs.

Questions about access to treatment

Why do people in South Africa and other poor countries not have access to anti-retroviral medication or the treatments for opportunistic infections?

In South Africa, the price of the cheapest triple-drug anti-retroviral therapy is well over R2000 per month. Most employed South Africans earn less than R1500 per month and well over 20% of South Africans are unemployed. Therefore, the price of anti-retroviral therapy is completely out of the question for most South Africans. The state can neither afford to buy these medications. The same applies to the treatments for some opportunistic infections (see fluconazole campaign flucon.htm).

The problem is not unique to South Africa, but applies to most poor countries , particularly in Africa, but also Asia and South America.

Why are many essential HIV medications so expensive?

Many of the drugs produced for treating HIV are manufactured under patent. The patent holders are usually large pharmaceutical companies. A patent allows a company exclusive access to a market. This means that for medications such as AZT, only the company which holds the patent, may sell the medication in South Africa. This effectively gives them a monopoly and allows them to sell the drug at whatever price they choose.

Are their cheaper generic versions of HIV medications?

Yes, there are high-quality cheap generics for most of the nukes, non-nukes and for drugs that cure opportunistic infections. However, the generic manufacturers are prevented from selling their products in South Africa if the medication is still under patent. If generic drugs are used for combating HIV in South Africa, many more people will be able to afford them and the state will probably be able to supply them to all people with AIDS who cannot afford to buy them.

What is patent abuse?

This is when a company which has a patent on a product sells it at an exorbitant price in order to make excessive profits.

What can be done about patent abuse?

Legislation in South Africa allows the South African government to issue compulsory licenses or to import the patent goods.

What is compulsory licensing?

A compulsory license allows the government to import or manufacture generic medication, so long as the state pays a royalty of 7% on all sales of the generic product to the patent holder.

What is parallel importing?

This is where a product under patent is purchased from another country from the patent holder, usually because it is cheaper in the foreign country than in the local country.

Under what circumstances can the state issue a compulsory license?

According to South African legislation, the state can do so whenever it deems it to be in the public interest.

Would the South African government be breaching its international trade agreements by issuing compulsory licenses?

No. South Africa is a signatory to the World Trade Organisation TRIPS agreement which regulates patent and intellectual property laws. TRIPS allows a state to issue compulsory license for health-care products.

Where can I find detailed information regarding South Africa and compulsory licenses?

Download and read this document document.

Have the pharmaceutical companies pressurised the South African government into not providing compulsory licenses?

Yes. The government introduced new legislation to make it easier to import generic medication. The world's largest pharmaceutical companies have taken legal action against the government to stop this legislation from being passed.

What is TAC critical of the US and European Union governments?

They have pressurised the South African government not to pursue the generic importation route. The US government placed South Africa on a trade watch list when the South African government indicated that it was going to import generic medication. Through concerted global activist pressure, South Africa was dropped off this watch list. However, there are reports of the US and European Union applying diplomatic pressure against the South African government not to pursue compulsory licenses.

Where can I find out detailed information about the pharmaceutical company, US and EU pressure against the SA government?

The Consumer Project on Technology http://www.cptech.orgwebsite, which is run by James Love of Public Citizen contains detailed information and history on this subject.

Why do the pharmaceutical companies, the US and EU governments persist in pressurising the South African government not to pursue compulsory licenses?

One can only speculate about this. The world's major pharmaceutical companies are based in these countries. They have strong control over the pharmaceutical industry which is extremely profitable. They wish to prevent a strong pharmaceutical industry developing in the world's poorer countries, because this could represent a significant threat to their control over the industry.

Didn't the drug companies offer to reduce their prices by a massive amount in a meeting in Geneva with UNAIDS?

They did, with much fanfare and superb public relations work. Yet, no clear details have emerged from the offer. Even with the touted 85% decrease in prices, generic medication options would still be cheaper.

Haven't some African countries accepted the reduced price offer by the drug companies?

Apparently some African countries, such as Senegal, have. However, only a few hundred people are affected by the offer to Senegal. Their HIV population is insignificant compared to South Africa. The drug companies do not need to negotiate a price drop with the South African government. They could simply drop the prices of their drugs. There should be no reason to negotiate such offers; it is entirely the choice of the drug companies. Usually when the drug companies indicate a desire to negotiate about something, it is a prelude to stalling tactics and draconian conditions (see fluconazole campaign flucon.htmfor an example of this).

Is the South African government blameless for not having obtained compulsory licenses?

Definitely not. The legislation is available for these licenses to be instituted. Such action would not infringe any of South Africa's international trade agreements. In addition, both the South African government and the pharmaceutical companies have delayed the outcome of the court case regarding the new legislation to make it easier to import generic medication. The South African government needs to show more courage in this regard.

Is TAC against patent laws?

TAC is not opposed to patent laws, but to patent abuse. It is important to remember that life-saving medications are not Levy jeans or McDonalds burgers, and cannot be treated in the same way.

Does TAC believe that drug companies should not make a profit?

No. TAC simply believes that drug companies should not make an excessive profit at the expense of people's health.

What is wrong with the argument that allowing anti-retrovirals to be distributed on a massive scale in poor countries will result in greater drug resistance?

Some people have argued that it is inappropriate for poor countries to distribute anti-retrovirals on a large scale because resistance to these drugs will arise, thereby reducing their efficacy in the future. This argument is logically flawed and contains implicit prejudices which have no empirical evidence to support them.

It is illogical because denying the vast majority of the HIV-positive population access to treatment will result in many deaths. Giving anti-retrovirals will however prolong and improve the lives of many people. If the drugs eventually become resistant, many more lives would have been saved than if the drugs were just manufactured for the relatively small HIV-positive populations of Europe and the US. By analogy, imagine a cure was invented for a hypothetical deadly snake bite, but the cure could only work the first time someone was bitten by this snake, but not the second time, nor will it work on anyone who has unsafe sex with this person. Now let us assume a person gets bitten by this snake, do we then say to this person, `Sorry, there's no point in giving you the cure to this snake bite, because if you get bitten by the snake again, it will not work, nor will it work on anyone with whom you have unsafe sex.'? Of course, not. The same argument applies to anti-retroviral medication.

The implicit prejudices in this argument are also evident. It suggest that people living in poor countries will not adhere to their drug regimens, which speeds up the development of resistance. There is no empirical evidence to verify this prejudice. Actually, resistance to essential medical drugs primarily occurs in rich countries, because medicine is much more available, but also because a culture has developed in the US and Europe of over-prescribing medication, which leads to misuse of their misuse, a problem that has received much attention in recent years in scientific journals. Even malaria prophylactic resistance in third-world countries is in part a result of the over-use of these prophylactics by international visitors to countries with malaria.

Why is the drug company argument that they use the patent laws to recover their research and development costs false?

The purpose of patent laws is to allow the patent holder to recover the cost of research and development that went into their product. The drug companies, however, use the patent laws to make exorbitant profits. For example, Pfizer, the manufacturer of fluconazole has made back over ten times the research and development cost of fluconazole. Their CEO, William C. Steere, who is an infamous AIDS profiteer, is one of the highest paid CEOs in the United States. Pharmaceuticals is one of the world's most profitable industries. The combined sales of the world's largest pharmaceutical companies exceed the South African Gross National Product!

The drug companies often argue that they need to recuperate the costs of their failed products as well. Besides the fact that their large profits more than compensate for this, their emphasis on howmuch they spend on research and development is misleading. Almost all the fundamental research into pharmaceuticals is done in universities using public money. But even many of the most important HIV drugs were not developed by the drug companies. ddI and d4T were developed entirely with public money. Bristol Myers Squibb bought the exclusive rights to sell these drugs from Yale University and the US National Institute of Health, on the condition that they charged fair prices for them. The same applies to many other drugs. Fluconazole was developed privately, but not by Pfizer. There are two critical implications of this:

  • The drug companies are taking almost no risk when they buy patents for drugs that have been researched elsewhere. Therefore their argument about being a high-risk industry and having to recuperate the costs of failed research are absurd.
  • The costs of developing drugs fall on the public sector, but the profits are going to the private sector.
A small percentage of pharmaceutical company expenses go into research and development. Marketing constitutes a much larger portion of drug company expenditure. Pharmaceutical companies have become marketing machines and not innovative research companies.

What is wrong with the argument that the US and EU are justified in protecting their industries, because the cost of developing drugs has been borne entirely by these countries.

There are a number of problems with this argument:
  • It is unethical to deny poor people who are virtually powerless access to life-saving medication.
  • A large amount of the cost of developing new drugs is absorbed by poor countries:
    • Many poor countries such as India have fine universities which produce excellent fundamental research necessary for producing new drugs.
    • Many poor countries are experiencing massive brain drains to the United States and Europe. Many of their best graduates are trained in their home countries at local taxpayer expense and then pursue careers, often in pharmaceutical research, in the US and Europe. There is no compensation of this loss to poor countries.
    • Many new experimental medications are tested on the citizens of poor countries, because of fewer legal problems and because poor people often cannot afford alternative already tested medications. Therefore, the citizens of poor countries often contribute significantly to the development of new drugs by acting as guinea pigs for research.
  • It is in the interests of the average citizen in the US and the EU for drug prices to come down. Drug prices are extremely high in these countries. Their government usually act in the interests of protecting corporate interests, rather than the interests of consumers.

Is it true that major drug company research and development is increasingly focused on developing non-essential recreational drugs?

Yes. The large drug company markets are in the US and European Union. The demand in these countries is not for life-saving essential drugs for curing diseases like multi-drug resistant TB or malaria, but for lifestyle drugs, such as Viagra, which is manufactured by Pfizer.

Won't compulsory licenses result in job losses for South Africans?

No, the long-term effect will most likely be the opposite. TAC advocates that where possible the state should encourage the local production of generic medication. This is certainly possible with fluconazole as well as the nucleoside and non-nucleoside anti-retrovirals. The Brazilian government manufactures many generic anti-retrovirals and imports a few others. As a result, the Brazilian government is now in a position to offer anti-retroviral medication to all its citizens with HIV. The Thai government also has a strong generic pharmaceutical industry and is also able to offer medication to many of its citizens with HIV. Both the Brazilian and Thai governments have offered to assist the South African government with establishing a pharmaceutical industry. There is wide scope for international agreements between poor countries which could result in them establishing strong pharmaceutical industries which invest in research and development for treating and curing diseases that afflict poor people.

Questions about the Defiance Campaign

What is the Christopher Moraka Defiance Campaign Against Patent Abuse?

In July 2000, TAC announced that it would start a campaign to import high-quality essential generic medication, in particular fluconazole (see fluconazole campaign flucon.htm). On 17 October, 2000, TAC announced that it had bought 5000 generic fluconazole capsules from a Thai company called Biolab. 3000 of these were imported back into South Africa.

Who was Christopher Moraka and why was the campaign named after him?

See Christopher Moraka chris.htm.

What is the point of the defiance campaign?

  • It will highlight the disparities in pricing on essential medications.
  • It will set a legal precedent for importing generic medication in order to guarantee the constitutional rights to life and health-care.
  • It will save and improve a few lives.

Is TAC planning to supply generic fluconazole to the entire country?

Definitely not! TAC has very limited resources. Ultimately it is the state's responsibility to provide essential medication to the entire country.

Does the Defiance Campaign break the law?

Importing generic fluconazole into South Africa infringes the law protecting Pfizer's patent, but TAC believes that a legal defence on the basis of the constitutional rights to life and health-care as well as a legal argument based on necessity will be sufficient to ensure that those involved in the Defiance Campaign will not be found guilty.

How long will the Defiance Campaign continue?

It will continue until each company that is targeted reduces the cost of its medication to a reasonable price or gives the South African government a license to import a generic equivalent.

How will the generic medication be distributed?

TAC will distribute the medication through doctors who agree to participate in the Defiance Campaign.

How does TAC know that the generic fluconazole it is importing is of good quality?

TAC is currently importing Biozole a generic version of fluconazole manufactured by a Thai company called Biolab. The following evidence implies that Biozole is a good quality generic medication:
  • A published bio-equivalence study shows that Biozole is, from a pharmaceutical perspective, identical to Diflucan, the fluconazole manufactured by Pfizer.
  • The active ingredient is supplied by a Swiss company and has been certified.
  • The WHO has inspected Biolab's premises and found them to be of good quality.
  • Biolab has an ISO 9001 certificate for its production facilities.
  • Biozole is registered and used in Thailand. It is used in many Asian countries.
  • Medicins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders), the 1999 Nobel Peace Prize Winners, uses Biozole. They have recommended Biozole to us.
  • TAC has visited the Biolab site. It was clean and the company's labour practices were acceptable.

What has happened to Pfizer's offer to donate fluconazole?

This is a good question and should be directed to Pfizer. The offer was made in mid-2000. Not a single capsule of donated fluconazole has reached a patient yet. Pfizer is negotiating the offer with the government but despite persistent rumours no agreement has been reached. TAC was party to the early stages of the negotiations and was witness to the bad faith negotiating style of Pfizer. In July the company released a false press statement aimed to coincide with immense activist pressure they were experiencing at the International AIDS Conference in Durban South Africa. The statement announced that Pfizer had reached an agreement with the South African government. The Minister of Health stated that she was furious at this premature announcement at the Global March for Treatment Access organised by TAC and Health-GAP on 9 July 2000.

Thus far it has been clear that the offer of the donation was a mere publicity stunt, but one that has been at the expense of people's lives.

What are the drugs that TAC intends to target?

TAC is focusing on the following essential medications which are the source of excessive profits:
  • fluconazole under patent to Pfizer
  • ddI and d4T under patent to Bristol Myers Squibb
  • ABC, 3TC and AZT under patent to Glaxo Wellcome.
  • nevirapine under patent to Boehringer Ingleheim
At the moment TAC is only importing fluconazole. In the future we will investigate importing anti-retrovirals.

Questions about preventing mother-to-child transmission of HIV

Do all pregnant mothers with HIV transmit the virus to their children?

No. There is some debate as to the precise transmission rate, which seems to differ within about a 20% range from study to study. It seems that 30% is a reasonable figure to use, but a recent study in Zimbabwe found a transmission rate of just over 40%.

Assuming a 30% rate, transmission occurs as follows in a typical sample of 100 births:

  • 5 infections occur in early pregnancy
  • 15 infections occur in late pregnancy and during birth
  • 10 infections occur as a result of breast-feeding

Howmany mother-to-child transmissions occur yearly in South Africa?

The prevalence of the virus is not stable, so from year to year the numbers have been increasing. In 1999, it was estimated that over 60,000 mother-to-child HIV infections occurred.

How can mother-to-child transmission be prevented?

By giving the mother and child anti-retroviral treatment and encouraging mothers to use infant formula milk, mother-to-child transmission can be reduced substantially. There are a number of possible anti-retroviral regimens that can be used: (1) long-course AZT, (2) short-course AZT and (3) Nevirapine, among others. Long-course AZT is the most expensive, but also the most effective. TAC is advocating that short-course AZT or Nevirapine are minimum appropriate solutions for South African public antenatal clinics.

Short-course AZT requires the mother to take AZT from the 36th week of pregnancy. The Nevirapine regimen is much simpler and requires the mother to take Nevirapine once during labour and for a Nevirapine syrup to be given to the child once after birth.

Using the transmission rate of 30%, the number of infections that can be prevented using the latter two regimens coupled with infant formula milk is estimated to be at least 15, but probably closer to 20, per 100 births. Using the numbers discussed in Question [*]:

  • 5 infections that occurred early in pregnancy cannot be prevented
  • approximately 10 of the 15 infections that occur in late pregnancy or just before birth will be prevented
  • 10 infections due to breast-feeding will be prevented.

Isn't infant formula milk associated with higher infant mortality rates in poor countries? What about `Breast is Best'?

Breast is normally best and infant formula milk is associated with higher infant mortality rates for mothers who are HIV-negative. However, for mothers who are HIV-positive the overall effect is to substantially reduce mortality by reducing the number of transmissions.

It is easiest to understand the effect of transmission rates by looking at the numbers. If 100 HIV-positive breast-feeding mothers are given Nevirapine or short-course AZT, then using the numbers discussed in Question [*]then:

  • 5 infections that occurred early in pregnancy cannot be prevented
  • 10 babies who were HIV-negative at birth even without the anti-retroviral treatment will still contract HIV through breast-feeding
  • approximately 5 of the 10 babies whose infection was prevented through the anti-retrovirals will now become infected through breast-milk
This comes to a total of approximately 5 infections averted as opposed to the 15 to 20 that would be averted if infant formula milk was used.

How long do HIV-positive infants live?

Assuming HIV-positive babies do not receive anti-retroviral therapy, they live on average 2 years.

Should the government afford to implement a country-wide mother-to-child transmission prevention (mtctp) programme.

By not implementing a country-wide programme, the following clauses in the South African constitution are being infringed by the government:
right of mothers to make reproductive choices
right to health-care
right to dignity and equality
best interests of the child.

Isn't the government only obligated to implement mother-to-child transmission prevention if it is within its available resources?

Yes, but it is within the government's resources. A number of independent studies published in prestigious peer-reviewed medical journals have shown that an mtctp programme is affordable. For a detailed analysis see this document mtctcost. Actually an mtctp programme would probably save the state money, because of the cost saved on not having to treat HIV-positive children?

Won't implementing an mtctp programme result in a large number of orphans?

It is not ethical to let children to die so that they don't become orphans. This is not even an ethic used in warfare. Besides, TAC is campaigning for all people, including mothers, to have access to HIV treatments.

What other spin-offs are there to an mtctp programme?

There is evidence that the counselling that mothers get with an mtctp programme results in a reduction of unsafe sex practices. In addition, by finding out their HIV status, mothers are in a better position to plan for the future and to make decisions that can help them live healthier, longer lives.

Why hasn't the government implemented a country-wide mtctp programme?

This is a question that should be put to the government. TAC has done this and received vague answers which avoid the issue.

Is it true that TAC is taking legal action against the government for not implementing an mtctp programme?

Yes. However, preparation for the court case has taken longer than expected. In addition, when TAC announced its intentions, the government announced that it would implement a pilot programmes in all provinces which has affected our preparation. Unfortunately, TAC has few resources and most of the TAC activists involved in the court case preparation do so on a part-time basis without any pay, and have full-time job commitments.

TAC is therefore taking the following approach. The legal action is being prepared meticulously and in detail. Civil society organisations are being solicited to join us in the court case against the government.

Does taking legal action against the government mean that TAC is anti-government or anti-ANC?

No. TAC is not aligned to any political party. Actually, most, but not all, TAC activists are ANC members or supporters. However, the government is failing to combat the HIV problem appropriately and it is necessary for the TAC to do everything we can to change the government's attitude to the disease. Ideally, TAC would like the government to lead us in the fight against HIV.

The government has announced that it will implement pilot mother-to-child transmission programmes using Nevirapine. What is this all about?

In response to public pressure, the government has announced that it will implement a mother-to-child transmission pilot projects. We understand the details of this implementation to be the following:
  • The Nevirapine regimen will be used.
  • Each province must implement at least two sites, where a site is defined as a set of clinics or hospitals that handles at least 3000 pregnancies a year.
  • Provinces may implement more than 2 sites if they wish.
Superficially, this pilot programme might seem to be substantial progress, but on careful examination one discovers that if the provinces implement the minimum requirement, then:

9 provinces X 2 sites X 3000 pregnancies = 54,000 pregnancies

There are approximately 1,000,000 births in public antenatal clinics in South Africa a year. Therefore, the pilot programme ensures that a small minority, approximately 6%, of mothers will be part of the mtctp programme.

Therefore TAC has decided to write to every provincial MEC for health to determine precisely what each province is intending to implement. We will also write to the Department of Health requesting a precise explanation of the details of the pilot programme.

Does the Democratic Alliance have a good record on HIV?

No. The DA, which is composed of the old National Party and the Democratic Party, has a terrible track record when it comes to fighting HIV. The DP opposed the legislation introduced by government to make the importation of generic medication easier. The National Party's track record against HIV when they were in power was worse than the current government. They ignored the disease for the most part and a minister of health under the National Party stated that HIV is a disease of people with poor morals.

It is quite concerning that just over a month before the local elections the DA's Tony Leon took an unprecedented interest in HIV. It suggests that the DA is using HIV purely for election propaganda purposes. On the other hand, the government has not helped the situation by releasing confusing messages on HIV, not implementing a country-wide mtctp programme and giving credence to AIDS denialists.

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