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Last Updated: Monday, 14 July, 2003, 19:12 GMT 20:12 UK
SA Aids deaths report leaked
Aids orphans in Durban
Five million people are said to have HIV virus in South Africa
The lives of 1.7 million South Africans could be saved in the next seven years if the government made anti-Aids drugs universally available immediately, an unpublished government study suggests.

A South African newspaper, the Cape Times, says the report was completed five months ago, but has yet to be officially released and had now been leaked to politicians, trade unions and others by the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC), an Aids activist group.

The group has become increasingly confrontational in its campaigning and accuses the South African Government of not acting quickly enough to provide anti-Aids drugs.

"Delays in starting this programme will cause preventable deaths, orphans and suffering," the TAC said.


The government said that the leaked report was a first draft, and that it was treating Aids with the utmost urgency.

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

The study was compiled by officials from the health and finance departments to determine the cost and impact of a national Aids drug programme.

The TAC quotes the report as saying that 1.8 million additional children will lose a parent by 2010 if drugs are not provided.

The use of anti-retroviral drugs has drastically reduced the number of deaths from Aids - but the South African Government has pulled back from introducing them.

It says they are expensive and has preferred to emphasise the importance of nutrition and poverty reduction. It also says it prefers prevention over treatment.

South Africa has more HIV-positive people than any other country in the world. Activists say some 600 South Africans die from Aids-related diseases each day.

The BBC's Juliet Dunlop
"Many of the speakers have criticised the West for simply not doing enough"

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