TAC Electronic Newsletter

14 July 2005

Contents

Zackie Achmat’s Statement Regarding Ronald Louw’s Death

“One of my closest friends and a longtime comrade, Ronald Louw, has died. Two major AIDS related factors caused his death: HIV denial and undiagnosed TB. Denial meant that he did not test for HIV until almost too late. And unreliable TB diagnostics developed more than 100 years ago meant that as his immune system was destroyed by HIV, TB could not be detected in his body until it was too late. He vomited, soiled his linen and his health did not improve. Sadly, he was not treated presumptively for TB until four weeks after his admission to hospital. His TB diagnosis was confirmed by a lung biopsy only three days before his death …

“Ronald’s memory demands that we intensify the struggle to get new, accurate diagnostics for TB. It demands that we mobilize to ensure that everyone gets tested for HIV to prevent and treat the illness. His death together with hundreds of thousands of others in our country demands that personal, cultural, scientific and political denial is ended. Above all it requires that we reaffirm the struggle for freedom, equality, dignity and social justice.”

Zackie Achmat’s Statement can be found in its entirety here: [LINK TO WORD DOC HERE]

[END OF ZACKIE ACHMAT STATEMENT]

Resisting the Reality of HIV Resulted in Death

a community story by Skhumbule Hambani

NH was a Mdantsane resident and was HIV positive. She was born in 1950 at Kentane and moved to Westbank (Nongqongqo). Her family was forcefully removed to Mdantsane when she was only 19 years old. In 1994 her mother died of gallstones and in 1995 her sister died of an HIV-related illness. Then in 2000 her father also died and left her with a huge family to run because she was the oldest. She began selling African beer for a living.  

In 2001 NH was diagnosed with HIV and continued to sell African beer at the highway. She was a strong woman and it was easy her to accept her status. NH strengthened herself by these words: “I was born strong — I resisted high blood pressure and sugar diabetes. So why won’t I be able to resist HIV?”.  

In 2003, NH began to get sick. Fortunately her nephew was a TAC member and an AIDS activist. She was hiding that she was HIV positive by saying that she had diabetes and high blood pressure. Then in early 2004 she started drinking the same African beer she sold. Eventually her business went down and she became a heavy drinker. NH believed that alcohol would calm her business- and health-related stresses.  

Her nephew advised her of going for a CD4 count but she would not go and said, “I am 54 years old, you are 22 years. How can you tell me what to do with my life? HIV has been in my bloodstream a long time and I’m still strong”. But in July 2004 she changed her mind after some education sessions conducted by her nephew. Unfortunately NH never got a CD4 count because she was not a support group member, which was a requirement.  

Late last year NH was diagnosed with TB and other illnesses. This year her nephew negotiated for a slot for her in the TAC Treatment Project. The Co-ordinator insisted that she quit smoking and drinking. After that NH’s nephew tried all he could to enroll her in the ARV rollout. NH did quit smoking and drinking at this point. Sadly, however, NH died on 10 June. Even after all that he did, her nephew still feels that he did not do enough for her. She will be missed and remembered as someone who was hopeful and wise.

[END OF SKHUMBULE HAMBANI’S STORY]

Fact Sheet: Latest News on Matthias Rath

Matthias Rath is working with AIDS denialist Anthony Brink to mislead the public on HIV/AIDS. They are endangering the lives of people with HIV. The Rath Foundation has been conducting illegal experiments on South Africans with HIV. Further, Rath makes unsubstantiated medical claims about multivitamins, and distributes his own untested and potentially dangerous multivitamins through the Rath Foundation. Rath’s behaviour warrants action by the Medicines Control Council (MCC). To date, however, the MCC has not taken action to stop Rath from distributing his untested products.

The Fact Sheet: Latest News on Matthias Rath can be found in its entirety here: [LINK TO WORD DOC HERE]

[END OF RATH FACT SHEET]

TAC Letter of Support for Amnesty International – Zimbabwe Campaign, Sent to President Olusegun Obasanjo, Chairperson of the African Union, 1 July 2005

The ruination of people’s lives and destruction of basic infrastructure in Zimbabwe, by the Zimbabwean government itself, and the forced eviction and homelessness of already vulnerable people has debilitated the country and left a gaping wound that will be difficult to heal. The conduct of the Zimbabwean government towards its own citizens is contrary to the most basic and universal human rights standards. Any government is of and for its people, and has an internationally recognised duty to respect, protect, and fulfil their basic rights.

As an African civil society organisation, the Treatment Action Campaign stands in solidarity with Zimbabwean civil society organisations and the Zimbabwe campaign. Although our outright mission is to ensure access to affordable treatment and medicines for people living with HIV/AIDS, as a civil society organisation we strive to be a voice for the community and to hold governments to their obligations, often by speaking out against unfair and unjust government policies. We support the recent calls to action on the AU made by Amnesty International and the Zimbabwe Campaign.

The TAC Letter of Support for Amnesty International – Zimbabwe Campaign can be found in its entirety here: [LINK TO WORD DOC HERE]

[END OF TAC LETTER OF SUPPORT]

[END OF NEWSLETTER]