I said that I have learned alot while at the conference. One thing that I learned is of the governments “role” (or lack of it) that gets much needed ARV’s (Anti-Retro-Virals). Medications that prolong life and help prevent the virus from advancing into full-blown AIDS. I always thought that it was the fault was primarily with the pharmaceutical companies and greed. (which may very well still be the reason). When I was over there in 2004, medicines were just becoming available, but not widespread. One had to be on death’s door (full-blown) before having access to the medication.
As I stated previously, Judy needed diflucan badly. And diflucan is not an antiretroviral, but medication used to treat yeast infection. She said it was too expensive for her to get. If that was too expensive for her, then I am sure that she was not receiving all the other medication that she probably needed.
But moreover, I am finding out that South Africa’s own Minister of Health may play a role also. I did happen to pass by the South African booth, but really didn’t pay much attention to it, because there didn’t seem to be that many people over in that area. I did see a bowl of fruit, but really thought that it was promoting good health. Which is very important.
A problem that was raised during one of the workshops I attended, was dealing with hunger and poverty in that: what was the point in having the ARV’s, if people didn’t have food to eat? Some of those medications are quite powerful and you absolutely have to eat. But, I digress…
It seems as though this particular display booth had garlic, beets, and lemons. Furthermore, the South African Minister of Health Manto Tshabalala-Msimang seems to be promoting traditional medicine, drawing attention from the antiretrovirals.
I am learning that South Africa was far behind other countries that were getting medications earlier. The President of South Africa, Thabo Mbeki and officials were accused of dragging their heels. President Mbeki also did not see the link between HIV and AIDS.
There was a protest at the South African booth that displayed the garlic, beets, and lemons. (the bottles of antiretrovirals were added later). It is said that several people from the organization T.A.C. stormed the booth to confiscate those items and a few people lay on the floor in front of the booth to symbolize the deaths that would occur if people only used traditional methods.
T.A.C. (Treatment Action Campaign) are also protesting about an inmate that has died while in jail, because the inmate did not receive medication. They charge the Minister of Health and the Minister of Prisons with culpable homicide.
See article here.