TAC urges Zuma to lead fight on Aids

2010-02-24 12:53

THE Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) has urged President Jacob Zuma

to take leadership and responsibility for himself, those around him, and South

Africa in fighting HIV/Aids.

Zuma’s leadership on Aids needed some constructive scrutiny, the

TAC said in its latest newsletter.

“We do not want to impose moral judgements on people, especially on

their private matters,” the Aids activist organisation said.

Many of the responses to Zuma’s actions had been “hysterical and


“But the president is not just any person. People look to him to

set an example.

“In a country without a serious HIV epidemic, it might be arguable

that his extra-marital affairs are for him and his family alone to resolve,” the

TAC said.

But South Africa had the world’s largest HIV epidemic.

The president held the highest office in South Africa and therefore

there were high expectations of him, as a leader, as an elder, and as a role


“We come from an era of denialism and lack of leadership on


“The new administration, in particular the president, chairperson

of the South Africa National Aids Council (Sanac) Deputy President Kgalema

Motlanthe and the ministry of health under the leadership of Dr [Aaron]

Motsaoledi, have expressed their commitment to turning the tide on


“It is imperative that all leaders speak and act as a unit. Last

year Sanac agreed on one message for Aids in South Africa.

“The theme for World Aids Day 2009 was ‘I am responsible, We are

responsible, South Africa is taking responsibility’.”

This message signified the start of a new era on how South Africa,

under Zuma’s leadership, was going to tackle the epidemic.

It was also chosen, among other reasons, to prevent HIV

transmission that occurred through multiple concurrent sexual relations.

The message encouraged individuals to reduce their number of sexual

partners, for men and women to take responsibility by protecting themselves and

others and to encourage consistent and correct condom usage.

The reality was that South Africa faced an extremely high HIV

prevalence among young women – almost one in three who attended ante-natal

clinics lived with HIV.

Women’s vulnerability to HIV manifested from their power status in

their relationships and this exposed them to HIV transmission.

Multiple concurrent partnerships increased the possibilities of HIV

transmission. This was made even worse when condoms were not used.

It was important to acknowledge that it was not by coincidence that

most women who lived with HIV were young and probably got infected from older


“But the president’s recent actions undermined all who are really

trying to meet the prevention target of reducing HIV transmission by 50%.”

The TAC urged Zuma to take leadership and responsibility for

himself, for those around him, and for South Africa.

“The message of responsibility agreed upon by civil society and

government applies to all, including the highest leaders.

“South Africa must take responsibility and it starts with all of as

individuals,” the TAC said.


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