BuaNews, 16 October 2002, Zuma, TAC Meet to Discuss HIV/Aids Treatment, Veronica Mohapeloa

Access to anti-AIDS drugs for people living HIVAIDS in South Africa is increasingly gaining ground.

Deputy President Jacob Zuma and the AIDS drugs lobby group, the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC), in a meeting in Cape Town yesterday recognised this urgency, based on the impact the disease posed on communities.

The meeting follows TAC's call for a universal therapy for people living with the disease, including a national treatment plan; setting a deadline 01 December for government to respond accordingly.

Both parties have so far agreed to consult even further in this regard, after Mr Zuma pointed out that the time frames 'might not be feasible'.

In a statement, the two said the discussions centred on government's commitment of the Five-year Strategic Plan on HIV/AIDS and commitments government made this year in the fight against the pandemic.

Early this month, in its campaign against the disease, government announced its update following the commitments it made in April this year.

In that month, Government decided to provide a comprehensive package of support, including antiretroviral therapy for survivors of sexual assault. In this regard it announced protocols were distributed to provinces by May and implementation had started, with additional funding provided.

Recognising that antiretroviral therapy was central to improving the health conditions of those living with the pandemic, government last week said a technical task team of Treasury and the Department of Health was working on lowering drug costs and other cost implications of an expanded response to the impact of HIV/AIDS on all sectors of society.

'The Deputy President and the TAC delegation also agreed to work tirelessly to give all infected people hope, and to strengthen the partnership to develop good quality, affordable and accessible healthcare system for all people, especially the poor,' the statement said.

Both also welcomed that the meeting took place and agreed to keep open channels of communication.