5.3 million are living with HIV/AIDS

Posted by Carrie on Monday, March 27th, 2006
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While we’re here we plan to look into the HIV/AIDS epidemic - we’ll be talking to members of various organizations as well as with people who are living with HIV/AIDS. South Africa has a population of 45 million and 5.3 million are living with HIV/AIDS - that’s 13% of the world population living with the disease. 1/2 million in South Africa have no access to treatment for the disease! This is a huge problem in South Africa!

One of our contacts is Dr. Di Cooper, she is part of the Women’s Health Research Unit at the University of Cape Town. We talked to her in order to find out more about what she does, but we also wanted to know about a specific organization which fights to get medical treatment for those living with HIV/AIDS - The organization is TAC - Treatment Action Campaign. The organization does more that fight for treatment - but I’ll get into that later.

Di, set us up with some people to work with for the rest of the week- we plan to:

1. meet with TAC coordinators
2. talk with people living with HIV/AIDS who is receiving treatment
3. meet with a group called – Ikhwezi- a performance group which travels around South Africa and other places promoting awareness, prevention/treatment education, the group creates plays to reach and teach many all over.
4. Visit a clinic, which provides ARVs (Anti-retroviral treatment) to those who are HIV positive.

One of the biggest problems is that ARVs are so expensive and pharmaceutical companies have not made it easy for South Africa to get these drugs. Many companies charge more money for the drugs in South Africa than they do in the United States. In addition, the South African government did not do much about the AIDS problem because it was not actually believed that HIV was the cause of AIDS- these people are called denialists – and include the South African president, Thabo Mbeki. There are also cultural issues, which have made it difficult for the government to get a hold on the situation.

So, we’re all set to go - we’ve got our interviews all lined up - I’ll write more about them once they’ve happened!

Thanks for keeping in touch with me!

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