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Democratic Alliance leader, Tony Leon
"The thing that concerns me is the way the issue is blurred"
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Tuesday, 24 October, 2000, 14:30 GMT 15:30 UK
SA's new war against Aids
A South African Aids sufferer
Nearly four million South Africans are infected with HIV
By Greg Barrow in Johannesburg

The South African Government has launched a new strategy for health workers to improve its response to the Aids crisis.

The new guidelines form part of the government's national health policy and will be carried in newspaper, radio and television advertisements.

They recommend abstinence from sex and encourage faithfulness among partners, as well as emphasising the importance of using condoms

Official figures say that more than four million South Africans - around 10% of the population - are infected with the virus.

The guidelines are designed to clear up confusion among the public caused by President Thabo Mbeki's controversial doubts about whether HIV is actually the single cause of Aids.

Back to basics

The government says the new guidelines are a back-to-basics approach to combating the rapid spread of HIV.

South African President Thabo Mbeki
President Mbeki: Questioned the link between HIV and Aids
Full-page advertisements have already started appearing in national newspapers spelling out simple ways of preventing HIV transmission.

They recommend abstinence from sex and encourage faithfulness among partners, as well as emphasising the importance of using condoms.

However specialists in the Aids field insist that public education only works if it goes hand-in-hand with the use of anti-retroviral or anti-Aids drugs.

But health minister, Manto Tshabalala Msimang ruled out the immediate provision of the drugs to treat people infected with the disease.

She however conceded that the drugs might be provided in the future.

" At no time has South Africa said we shall never never give anti-retrovirals to pregnant women, but there are constraints that face South Africa".

With so many people already infected with HIV, South Africa's problem is not just preventing its transmission but treating those who have already contracted the virus.

Political row

A political row is already brewing over an offer from the opposition Democratic Alliance to provide anti-retrovirals in local council areas under its control.

anti retroviral drugs
The government says anti-retrovirals are toxic
The governing African National Congress (ANC) still believes that many anti-retrovirals are dangerous, despite their use and recognition elsewhere in the world.

It has now accused the opposition of disregarding the safety of patients and conning them into using toxic drugs.

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See also:

04 Nov 99 | Aids
Aids up close
20 Sep 00 | Africa
Church enters SA Aids row
11 Jul 00 | Africa
Aids threat to Africa's economy
14 Sep 00 | Africa
'Don't call me Manto'
14 Sep 00 | Africa
SA Government steps into Aids row
14 Jul 00 | Health
Pressure on Mbeki over Aids
24 Oct 00 | Aids
Aids drugs factfile
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