Strike causes Aids concern
Johannesburg - Aids workers expressed concern on Thursday about the affects of a national public service strike on HIV positive people needing chronic medication.
"The current wage dispute between the government of South Africa and the trade unions could place the success of the recent gains in HIV and tuberculosis (TB) treatment at risk," the SA National Aids Council (Sanac) said in a statement.
More than one million people are on chronic HIV medication in South Africa, said Sanac.
"The impact of a failure to ensure an uninterrupted flow of medication to those reliant on the public health system for their health and well-being will be seen for years to come and could adversely affect thousands of people."
The council said it was receiving reports that patients on chronic anti-retroviral medicine were facing "increasing challenges in getting access" to the medication.
"Sanac acknowledges the right of health workers to take industrial action. However, we are concerned that persons who are reliant on the public health sector for medical care are being turned away, and in some cases intimidated, when presenting themselves for re-stocking of their medication."
The council said a break in the continuity of ARVs and TB medication had serious implications for the patients.
"It increases the chances of patients becoming drug resistant, a challenge that South Africa cannot afford."
Those unable to get their medicine were advised to call a Sanac hotline, on 012 312 6184 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) lobby group called on the government to intervene at "the highest level" to bring an end to the strike.
"We support the demands of workers and their right to strike. But we regret the growing polarisation, pain and loss of life. This is now a political crisis that requires political leadership and a solution," the TAC said in a statement.