Socialist Worker

Much rhetoric but little delivery at Toronto Aids Conference

Issue No. 2015

The great powers, and politicians such as George Bush and Tony Blair bear the heaviest responsibility for the death toll of Aids.

They allocate massive resources to warfare rather than health and education. They police and promote an economic system that devastates great portions of the globe.

They insist that poor countries have to repay debts to the bankers, channeling money away from saving lives. They defend the patent system that fattens the pharmaceutical firms and bars the poor from treatment.

But governments in the developing world also stand in the way of tackling Aids.

The South African government stall at the Toronto conference featured lemons, garlic and beets, which it claimed were helpful in treating Aids.

Nathan Geffen, TAC’s national manager who was at the conference, told Socialist Worker, “There is a plethora of rhetoric at these events, but much less delivery.

“There has been progress in Aids treatment as a result of campaigning. But there is still a very long way to go. Figures released last week showed that 1.7 million people across the world are now receiving life-saving antiretroviral treatment. But the number needing such therapy is 6.8 million, so more than 5 million are abandoned.

“In South Africa, Aids claims 800 victims a day. In 1997, most people in the country who died were over the age of 60, In 2003-4 most people who died were between the ages of 20 and 40. That is the effect of a massive Aids epidemic.”

For more on the TAC go to

Fighting for treatment

The Treatment Action Campaign took on the Aids policies of the South African government by sending three doctors to Durban’s Westville prison this week to treat 46 HIV positive inmates who are critically ill and want antiretroviral (ARV) treatment.

This came after the death of one of 15 inmates who, with TAC help, won a court order to force the department of correctional services to implement an ARV programme. ?The department stalled by appealing against the judgment and no programme has been started.

On Friday of last week, TAC staged a demonstration in Cape Town with banners proclaiming “Arrest Manto”, saying that health minister Manto Tshabalala Msimang should be investigated for causing unnecessary and preventable deaths because of her policies on Aids.

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