‘Access to ARVs for all’

2016-07-19 11:35
Thousands of people marched in Durban as the International Aids conference opened yesterday, calling for expanded access to ARV treatment.

Thousands of people marched in Durban as the International Aids conference opened yesterday, calling for expanded access to ARV treatment. ( Supplied )

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Pietermaritzburg - About 5 000 people marched along the streets of Durban on Monday at the start of the International Aids Conference, protesting against the fact that 20 million people do not have access to ARV treatment.

With large painted posters, loud hailers and a sea of purple and white shirts with the slogan “HIV Positive”, activists and marchers from various organisations, circled by police on bikes and in vans, marched from a park in the CBD to the city hall to hand over a memorandum emphasising the need for treatment and funding of health facilities.

The memorandum was handed over to Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon, U.S. ambassador Patrick Gaspard and global Aids ambassador Deborah Birx.

The Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) said the march was intended to take a stand against the “massive disconnect” between the promises to end the HIV/Aids crisis and the poor funding of health systems.

TAC spokesperson Matthew Kavanagh said in a statement handed out during the march that a few weeks ago, world leaders had gathered at the United Nations, promising to end the Aids crisis by 2030. However, he said, 20 million out of 37 million people living with HIV still did not have access to treatment.

“Over one million people die every year of this treatable and preventable disease,” he said, adding that funding for HIV from wealthier countries had also dropped substantially in 2015.

Jamila Headley, a Health Global Access Project member, said almost no one had access to treatment 16 years ago. However, over a decade later, 17 million people were now able to get treatment.

“It is easy to pat ourselves on the back looking at this figure, but there are still 20 million people without any access to treatment.

“We have had an eight percent drop in funding for Aids research … and it is a crisis. This is a failure of power and we are calling on those with authority to act,” she said, adding that one in two people in SA did not have access to treatment.

A marcher from Pietermaritzburg, Mpume Mkhize, said the march was “extremely important” to her as she had family with Aids but no access to ARVs.

“My brother, who is HIV-positive, does not have access to ARVs. He is not doing very well and every time he goes to Edendale Hospital for his medication, they tell him they are all out.”

Howick TAC branch member Moses Kilozo said the march was also intended to highlight that all people are equal and everyone deserves treatment.

“This march is also to show love, support and care to those who are HIV-positive, to work on removing the stigma surrounding the disease and be the voice of those who have died …”

Read more on:    durban  |  arv  |  aids  |  hiv

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