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Wednesday, 31 October, 2001, 17:51 GMT
South Africans welcome Aids budget
President Thabo Mbeki
Mbeki has raised controversial ideas about Aids
By Barnaby Phillips in Johannesburg

Aids activists in South Africa have welcomed the government's decision to increase spending to fight the disease.

On Tuesday the government said spending on fighting HIV and Aids would increase four-fold over the next three years.

drugs
South African could be able to afford Aids drugs

Activists have consistently accused the South African government of not doing enough to fight the disease, which is believed to have infected more than four-and-a-half million people.

A leading Aids activist told the BBC that the government's new spending plans represent the beginning of a recognition of the implications of the Aids crisis.

But he said this was only a conditional welcome.

Mother to child

He and other activists would still like to see the government spend more and in particular they would like to see it concentrate more resources on stopping the transmission of the HIV virus from mother to child.

South Africa's President, Thabo Mbeki, has attracted an enormous amount of criticism for the sceptical stance he has taken towards the AIDS crisis.

He appears to doubt its seriousness. But pressure has been mounting on President Mbeki in recent weeks.

A leading research group published a report warning that up to 7m South Africans could die from Aids -related diseases by the year 2010.

This led to calls from trade unions and churches for the government to do more.

See also:

19 Apr 01 | Health
SA Aids case: The repercussions
23 Mar 01 | Business
Health brings wealth
03 Feb 01 | Americas
Brazil in US Aids drugs row
02 Jul 99 | Aids
What is Aids?
24 Oct 00 | Aids
Aids drugs factfile
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