Eastern Cape DAWN calls for life – saving equality on World AIDS day

Celeste Barker (MPL)

Shadow MEC for Health

Today, the Democratic Alliance (DA) in the Eastern Cape commemorates World AIDS Day. It is estimated that roughly 34 million people are infected with AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) worldwide. The theme for this year is, “Focus, Partner, Achieve: An AIDS-free Generation.”

The HIV/AIDS prevalence rate in the Eastern Cape is estimated to be between 8% and 11%. In a report released in 2007, the Multi Sectoral HIV and AIDS Framework stated that AIDS accounted for 64% of all deaths in the Eastern Cape (ages 15-49) in 2006.

The Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) recently called on the government to ensure that drug stockouts do not affect access to ARV’s in South Africa.

East Cape DAWN endorses this call and supports the rights enshrined in the SA Constitution: Chapter 2, clauses 9.2, 9.3, 9.10,12.2 (b) and 27.1. (a).

We know that women – particularly rural black women (cf Amnesty International Research Report) – bear the brunt of the AIDS pandemic.

We also know that there is a veil of shame – filled silence drawn over this national epidemic.

We call on the ANC-led government to ensure that every single public hospital and clinic in South Africa is stocked with ARV’s and is able to meet  daily demands for HIV drugs throughout this beloved country of ours.

The people – especially black, rural women – deserve no less than the fulfilment of their constitutional rights and consistent, reliable access to healthcare and ARV ‘s.

Break the silence. Recognise the rights of all our people regardless of where they live and treat them with equal respect and dignity as the Constitution enjoins us to.

These are their legitimate rights!

During a media briefing which took place in March this year, Archbishop Desmond Tutu stated the following, “It is not over until the evils that drive HIV, like rape and violence against women and children are defeated.”

We plead with the men and women of this province to protect one another, know your status and join in the fight against sexual violence.

An AIDS free generation is the ideal scenario which we hope to achieve not only in the Eastern Cape and South Africa but the world at large.

Let us partner together and work towards the prospect of an AIDS free generation; let us remain committed to fighting this disease at all costs.