PIET RETIEF – Over one thousand Treatment Action Campaign members marched to the official World AIDS Day event in Piet Retief today to draw attention to the real challenges faced by people living with HIV/AIDS (PWAs) in the province, specifically critical drug stock-outs and a collapsing public health system.
At short notice this morning TAC was grateful to be offered a meeting with Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe so we could address these critical issues.
However, two attempts to meet with the Deputy President failed and TAC has as a result made it clear that we will not participate in the official event. TAC is currently holding a vigil with PWAs outside the stadium. We will remain here until after the event finishes in the hope of a brief audience with the Deputy President.
We are tired of expensive World AIDS Day events that bring a circus to a heavily affected area for one day and leaves with the realities for PWAs unaddressed. This is not the way to remember people with HIV who have died in the struggle to get SA to the position to where we standing in relation to the HIV epidemic today. TAC respects the Deputy President and Minister of Health and their commitment, but we also say enough is enough and PWAs are still dying in great numbers.
Finally, TAC notes this event has been called under the auspices of the South African National AIDS Council, which continues to remain silent around challenges facing PWAs as well as the dysfunction of the majority of Provincial AIDS Councils who are charged with the responsibility of tackling these life-threatening problems.
TAC is currently outside the stadium and will not be participating in the official event unless we receive a commitment from the Deputy President to briefly meet with us shortly after today’s events.
The TAC will hold its own vigil outside the stadium until 1.30pm and we invite the media to join us.
For interviews and comments at the scene:
Mark Heywood, TAC Executive 0836348806
Anele Yawa, TAC National Chairperson 0735558849
Thobile Maseko, TAC Mpumalanga Chairperson 0786313972