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BTL:After Long Delay, South Africa Begins Offering Treatment to AIDS Patients

Interview with Dudu Dlamini, of South Africa's Treatment Action Campaign, conducted by Between the Lines' Melinda Tuhus
After Long Delay, South Africa Begins Offering Treatment to AIDS Patients

Interview with Dudu Dlamini, of South Africa's Treatment Action Campaign, conducted by Melinda Tuhus

More people are living and dying with AIDS in South Africa than in any other country. More than a million have died so far and hundreds of thousands of children have been orphaned. An estimated one out of nine people over age 2 is infected. The impact of such statistics on the social and economic fabric of South Africa is almost unimaginable.

In December 1998, the Treatment Action Campaign, or TAC, was launched to demand that the government of President Thabo Mbeki provide anti-retroviral treatment for people with HIV/AIDS, including HIV-positive pregnant women. Mbeki's position had long been that poverty, not HIV, causes AIDS, and he appointed ministers of health who promoted their own unscientific theories and treatments. Under diplomatic and political pressure, the government pledged a roll-out of anti-retrovirals beginning April 1, but later said the start date would be postponed until June because it would take that long to sign contracts with drug companies. In mid-March, TAC threatened to take the government to court to force implementation, and on April 1, a limited distribution of drugs began for the most seriously ill AIDS patients.

In late March, Between The Lines' Melinda Tuhus spoke with Dudu Dlamini, treatment project coordinator with TAC, at her office in Johannesburg. She contracted HIV from her abusive former husband and gave birth to a baby who died of AIDS at the age of 2. She went public with her case in 1999 and began treatment in a drug trial that has restored her health. Dlamini spoke about the government's position on AIDS, in light of upcoming national elections on April 14, and her hopes for tackling the disease in South Africa.

For more information, visit South Africa's Treatment Action Campaign website at www.tac.org.za

LISTEN to this week's half-hour program of Between The Lines by clicking on one of the links below:

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"Between The Lines" is a half-hour syndicated radio news magazine that each week features a summary of under-reported news stories and interviews with activists and journalists who offer progressive perspectives on international, national and regional political, economic and social issues. Because "Between The Lines" is independent of all publications, media networks or political parties, we are able to bring a diversity of voices to the airwaves generally ignored or marginalized by the major media. For more information on this week's topics and to check out our text archive listing topics and guests presented in previous programs visit: httC://www.btlonline.org
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"Between the Lines," WPKN 89.5 FM's weekly radio news magazine can be heard Tuesdays at 5:30 p.m. ET; Wednesdays at 8 a.m. ET and Saturdays at 2 p.m. ET (Wednesday's show airs at 7:30 a.m. ET during fundraising months of April and October).
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