TAC Statement - 4 February 2003



  1. Over 200,000 people living with HIV/AIDS may die in 2003 without proper treatment and support.  Adequate treatment means counselling and testing, proper nutrition, preventing and treating opportunistic infections, and, where clinically indicated, antiretroviral use.  Nomfundo Dubula who lives with HIV/AIDS says: “Every one of us has a duty to save lives and to prevent deaths.”


  1. The Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) joined by:


Access, AIDS Consortium, AIDS Law Project, Archbishop of Cape Town and Metropolitan of the Anglican Church in Southern Africa, ATTN SA, CARE, Children's Rights Centre, Combined AIDS Ministry, COSATU, Durban Lesbian and Gay Community Centre, FAWU, FEDUSA, Habonim, HOPSERSA, Jubilee 2000, Kagiso Anglican YCW, Positive Muslims, Positive Wits - HIV/AIDS Campaign, RAPCAN, SA Academy of Family Practice, SACTWU, South African Medical Association, SAMWU,  SOHACA, Southern African Catholic Bishops Conference AIDS Office, The Caring Network, The Southern African HIV Clinicians Society, Themba HIV/AIDS Project, Triangle Project, WC-NACOSA, Western Cape Council of Churches, Wits HIV/AIDS Education and Support Project, Wits Perinatal HIV Research Unit, Women on Farms Project and many others


will organize the biggest event to help save the lives of millions of people in our country living with HIV/AIDS. We are marching to support our sisters, brothers, children, parents, families, colleagues and communities.  The Academy of Family Practice in South Africa said: "HIV/AIDS is the single biggest threat to the health and well-being of people living in South Africa. As Family Doctors and General Practitioners who are intimately involved in the lives of our patients and their families and see the destruction that this epidemic is bringing to them on a daily basis, we call on the Government to implement a national treatment plan and the provision of antiretroviral drugs without delay."


  1. As Parliament opens, we want to show the peoples’ support for a national treatment and prevention plan. The outline of this plan has already been negotiated between government, labour, business and the community sectors of NEDLAC. Government can give enormous hope to all our people if it signs and implements a national treatment and prevention plan by the end of February 2003. The government has the legal power to ensure that all antiretrovirals are produced locally at very low and affordable prices. Government has the money. The Treasury has allocated more than R3 billion for HIV/AIDS spending.  International agencies will make up the short fall.



  1. We welcome the promised financial allocations from the US President for HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment. However, we will be marching on the US Consulate to ask the US President and Congress to ensure that the bulk of the money is channeled through the Global Fund for AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. This is the only way to ensure that no unfair conditions are placed on poor countries and that bureaucracy is minimized.  TAC and all our allies also demand that the US government drops all opposition to amend the TRIPS agreements. Such an agreement will allow all poor countries to import generic medicines and save the lives of people living with HIV/AIDS, cancer, heart disease and all other public health problems. Mark Heywood, TAC national secretary said: “The gravest threat to human security is poverty, HIV/AIDS and public health crises in the developing world.  We urge all countries to reduce military spending, stop their war plans, and to invest in life and health.”


  1. For more than four years we have appealed to government, negotiated, marched, held interfaith services, supported it in court against drug companies and even litigated against it to ensure a national mother-to-child HIV prevention programme.  Last year, we agreed with Deputy-President Jacob Zuma to hold off TAC’s planned civil disobedience campaign until the end of February 2003.  We explained that we will continue social mobilization but that we will respect his request not to break the law. Thabo Cele for TAC and NAPWA in KwaZulu-Natal said: “We want to work with government to ensure antiretroviral treatment for all people but we have waited and begged. We make this last appeal to government. Treat the people!”


  1. TAC, our country, continent and the progressive world looks to government to solve the crisis. This is the message we will bring to Parliament in a peaceful, lawful mass demonstration on 14 February 2003.  We appeal to all people in South Africa to participate in this march.  In a historic move, the demonstration will include over 650 people, travelling by train from Johannesburg.  Many of the petitioners, who are from several provinces in the country, will be people living with HIV, anxious to make their voice heard personally at the doors of Parliament. 


  1. The Treatment Train departs Johannesburg in the evening of 12 February.  On
    13 February, the travellers will participate in an all-day moving workshop.
    When they arrive on February 14, they will spend several hours canvassing in
    Cape Town before the march.


  1. TAC and our allies ask the government to turn our march into a celebration of life and to announce that it will develop an antiretroviral treatment access programme before 14 February 2003.

    TAC’s official march spokesperson is Nonkosi Khumalo. cell 072 2311422 or 021 788 3507
    For further details and members of the media wishing to travel on the train, please contact: Pholokgolo Ramothwala 011 403 2293 or Nathan Geffen 021 788 3507