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Last Updated: Tuesday, 17 February, 2004, 21:04 GMT
SA Aids activists warn ministers
Aids ribbon
HIV/Aids claims about 600 lives in South Africa a day
South African Aids activists have threatened to renew their protests against what they say is the failure of government to provide HIV-Aids drugs.

The Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) says it will take to the streets unless the government begins distribution.

It accuses the government of dragging its feet on the issue.

The campaigners say only 2,700 people will receive anti-retroviral drugs by the end of March, far short of the government target of 53,000.

The anger of activists has focused on the Minister of Health, Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, who was quoted over the weekend as saying the provision of drugs could not get under way as her own ministry was in a shambles.

If the health minister runs away from the treatment plan, we will not hesitate to go back to the streets.
Denis Matwa, TAC spokesman

The minister's statement follows her recent utterances that have led to confusion about the government stance on the treatment of HIV-Aids patients.

She has previously been quoted as saying that she would not be hurried into providing anti-retroviral drugs, and that beetroot and lemons were part of an ideal diet for people who were HIV positive.

And at the weekend, she said that in future people on anti-retroviral drugs might be weaned off in favour of African traditional medicines.

'Support'

Speaking to the Cape Times newspaper, a TAC spokesman said that Ms Manto's statements indicated that she was moving away from the treatment plans.

Denis Matwa said: "If the health minister runs away from the treatment plan, we will not hesitate to go back to the streets. This time we will get much more support both nationally and internationally."

Meanwhile the opposition Democratic Alliance has called on the health minister to clarify her statement on weaning people off anti-retroviral drugs.

DA leader Tony Leon said in a statement that as the government had not yet started rolling out anti-retroviral drugs, there was nothing to wean South Africans off.




SEE ALSO:
Facing the cost of Aids
03 Dec 03  |  Europe
Food aid to target HIV sufferers
18 Nov 03  |  Africa
Huge cash boost for SA Aids fight
12 Nov 03  |  Business
UN studies Aids impact on Africa
17 Sep 03  |  Africa


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