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Sunday, 25 August, 2002, 15:47 GMT 16:47 UK
Mandela reveals family Aids heartache
Nelson Mandela
Mr Mandela has criticised President Mbeki's Aids policy
Nelson Mandela has spoken for the first time about how Aids has affected his family, causing the death of three close relatives.

The former South African president told the country's Sunday Times newspaper that a 22-year-old niece and two sons of a nephew had died of the disease.

''What I want to stress is the devastating effect of Aids on this country," Mr Mandela said. "All of us have to stand up and make sure that this matter is widely publicised.''

Mr Mandela is a leading critic of the government's handling of HIV/Aids, which has infected one in nine people in South Africa.

Soweto obituaries

President Thabo Mbeki has questioned the link between HIV and Aids and opposes providing state hospitals with anti-retroviral drugs that may prolong the lives of sufferers.


I left some money with my brother to treat (my niece)... A few days after I got back to Johannesburg, I heard she had died

Nelson Mandela

Mr Mandela said: ''I became aware of my niece's illness when I came down to the Transkei (Eastern Cape)... I learnt that she was in hospital and that she was HIV positive. I left some money with my brother to treat her.

''A few days after I got back to Johannesburg, I heard that she had died," he said.

Nevirapine pills
Nevirapine: A retroviral drug Mr Mbeki has opposed endorsing

Mr Mandela said obituaries in the Johannesburg daily newspaper the Sowetan had increased from a ''small part of the page'' to two pages.

''If you look closely, you will see how serious the pandemic is," he said.

The former president said people should not be ashamed to reveal that they were HIV positive.

He added: ''We call upon everybody not to treat people who are HIV positive with stigma. We must embrace and love them.''

The country has the highest number of HIV/Aids cases in the world.


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24 Jul 01 | Africa
28 Jul 02 | Africa
28 Nov 01 | Africa
27 Nov 01 | Africa
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