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Last Updated: Monday, 16 June, 2003, 21:39 GMT 22:39 UK
S Africa pledges action on Aids drugs
An Aids victim
Five million people are said to have HIV virus in South Africa

South Africa's health system will soon offer drugs blocking the Aids virus, the body that advises the government on HIV/Aids has said.

The South African National Aids Council (Sanac) made the announcement following a meeting with the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) - a group that has been urging the government to supply the drugs.

TAC chairman Zachie Achmat - who is HIV positive - told the BBC's Focus on Africa that the government should act quickly.

Facts and figures on the impact of HIV in sub-Saharan Africa

"It is urgent. Last week we buried two more people from the organisation."

"We hope our government will see this in the same light as it sees the unnecessary deaths in Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo," Mr Achmat said.

Antiretroviral

However Sanac did not give a specific date for the releasing of the so-called antiretroviral drugs.

Aids orphans in South Africa

"I will not try to invent dates. All of us recognize the urgency," said Sanac chairman Jacob Zuma - who is also South Africa's deputy president.

"We are responsible enough to move as swiftly as possible," he added.

The drugs have been shown to block HIV, the virus that causes Aids.

Mr Achmat has called on the authorities to hold more meetings with his group in order to chart the way forward.

Last month the group suspended a civil disobedience campaign demanding Aids drugs at state hospitals.

Almost five million people are believed to be infected with HIV across South Africa.


SEE ALSO:
Santana joins SA Aids fight
06 Jun 03  |  Africa


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