News24, 01 December 2002, Thousands light Aids candles

Kimberley - Thousands of people lit candles throughout South Africa on Sunday to commemorate World Aids Day.

Kimberley's Absa Stadium drew the largest crowd with 15 000 reported to have attended the ceremony. Other dignitaries commemorated the day in several towns and cities, including in Bloemfontein, Cape Town and Musina.

Frank Chikane

HIV/Aids was a global challenge, and possibly one of Africa 's major obstacles in its efforts to overcome current socio-economic difficulties, Reverend Frank Chikane, the director-general in the presidency, said.

"We have come together therefore to join hands so that we can turn difficulties into opportunities and intensify our campaign of hope, and refuse to be defeated by this epidemic," Chikane said on behalf of Deputy President Jacob Zuma.

Zuma, the chairperson of the SA National Aids Council, could not attend the ceremony in Kimberley as he was mediating the Burundi peace talks in Tanzania.

Chikane said that in terms of resources, the budget for home-based care and community-based care increased from R25m in 2001 to R138m in 2004/2005.

"Let me also remind you that government's special HIV/AIDS budget has also been increased from R350-million in 2001/2002 to R1-billion in 2002/2003, and will expand further to R1,8-billion in 2004/2005.

"An additional R1.8 billion has been allocated to South Africa through the Global Fund to fight Aids, TB and Malaria, and SANAC (SA National Aids Council) has now endorsed a second round of submissions to the Global Fund," he said.

Nelson Mandela

Former president Nelson Mandela told traditional leaders in Bloemfontein that he supported the government "without reservation" for conducting research into the safety of using antiretrovirals in Africa .

People should stop blaming and criticising government for the research, he said.

"They (the government) are right in conducting the research," Mandela said.

NNP

New National Party leader Marthinus van Schalkwyk said the capacity for rapid response was possibly the most important element in the national fight against HIV/Aids.

"In much the same way as any successful war is waged, the war on HIV/Aids requires a number of vital elements to be in place if we are to achieve victory. "Perhaps the single most important of these elements is to create the capacity for rapid response," he said at a ceremony on Robben Island .

Van Schalkwyk said that for 21 years the world had been living and dealing with Aids, and ever-growing numbers of HIV-positive individuals.

"Children born after 1981, an entire generation, have never known a world without Aids," he said.

DA

Democratic Alliance leader Tony Leon said the United Nations' declaration of December 1 as World Aids Day was recognition of a disease that had killed more people and caused more misery than any other plague in human history.

However, Leon said: "The pomp and ceremony of the day served as a disguise for inaction rather than a spur to action on the part of South Africa's national and provincial governments."

He was speaking during a visit to a paediatric ward at Cape Town's Tygerberg Hospital.

Labour movements

Labour movements said that workers should have access to the best possible treatment for HIV/Aids, including antiretroviral drugs where required.

The federations said all South Africans had a right to, among others, accurate and understandable information on HIV/Aids.

In Musina, people gathered at the Nancefield stadium to listen to provincial health MEC Sello Moloto outline his plans to roll out the province's nevirapine programme at provincial hospitals.

Manto Tshabalala-Msimang

Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang lit her candle at the Absa Stadium to mark the day. She was accompanied by senior government officials and musicians who entertained the crowd.

South Africa's theme for the 2002 World Aids Day is: "I care enough to help, do you?" The theme is inspired by the global theme "Live, let live".

Two of the government's "Khomanani campaigns" - the circles of support campaign and the youth campaign - have formed a major part of the national HIV/Aids programme.

The youth campaign directly targets children by promoting safer sex and encouraging them to delay sex by at least a few years.

The circles of support campaign was formed to improve care and support, reduce stigmatisation and increase community support for orphans and vulnerable children affected by the pandemic.