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  |  COSATU Press Statements

COSATU World Aids Day statement

1 December 2013

On World AIDS Day, 1 December 2013, the Congress of South African Trade Unions recommits itself to mobilise all its members in support of the global campaign to defeat HIV and AIDS.

South Africa has made huge progress in the fight against HIV/AIDS since we emerged from the dark days of denialism. While it remains the country with the highest HIV population, with about six million people infected - more than 10% of the population - it has also has the world`s best programme for rolling out anti-retroviral medication, with around 2.5 million people taking antiretroviral (ARV) drugs daily.

Over the past three years, the HIV Counselling and Testing (HCT) campaign has also become the largest such programme in the world, with more than 20 million people being tested.

As we commemorate World Aids Day 2013, however, we face a new challenge. One in five South African clinics are running short, or even running out, of life-saving ARV drugs, affecting nearly half a million people and undermining the success of the world`s largest treatment programme.

Medical charity Médecins Sans Frontières has surveyed more than 2,300 of South Africa`s 3,800 public health facilities and found that one in five had either run short or run out of drugs in the previous three months.

Of the affected clinics - serving 420,000 people out of the 2.4 million people who depend on public health services for their ARV medicine - 20% said they had had to turn away patients, putting the effectiveness of the ARV treatment plan at risk.

"The extent of medicine shortages, especially ARVs, is significant and far beyond previous estimations," says TAC chairperson Anele Yawa. "In six out of nine provinces, over 17% of responding facilities said they were affected." The Free State, Limpopo and Mpumalanga are the worst affected.

The workers and the poor are the worst affected and COSATU is very disturbed. It will have bad consequences on the entire health system, as more patients will be at risk of contracting opportunistic infections and resistant forms of HIV and TB.

It is very ironic that the national and provincial departments do not seem to have a handle on their stock taking system, if they ever did. We call on the Minister of Health to speedily deal with this matter.

The Minister of health will be re-launching the HCT campaign in Gert Sibanda district, and COSATU encourages all our members to participate in the campaign and get themselves tested.

A COSATU member with HIV is still a member of COSATU!

Let us support each other and stop discrimination in the workplace.

Jacqueline Bodibe (Occupational Health & Safety, HIV and AIDS Policy Co-ordinator)
Congress of South African Trade Unions
110 Jorissen Street Braamfontein 2017
P.O.Box 1019 Johannesburg 2000 South Africa
Tel: +27 11 339-4911/24 Fax: +27 11 339-5080 / 6940 Mobile: +27 82 523 7837
E-Mail: jacqueline@cosatu.org.za or jbodibe@yahoo.com

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