The fight against HIV/AIDS is essential to the fight against poverty and a
better life for all.
Over the past few years we have seen a steady
increase in the number of those who are infected. At the same time, the
impact on our communities has been increasing. As more people get sick,
more relatives have to spend more time and resources looking after them.
As more people die, so also does the number of children orphaned increase.
While HIV/AIDS can affect anybody, it hits the poor hardest. Our
programme to combat the epidemic must therefore be part of the fight
against poverty; to make basic health services, clean water and sanitation
accessible to all our people; to improve nutrition and food security; to
fight against diseases such as tuberculosis and sexually-transmitted
diseases, malnutrition and to promote the empowerment of women and young
For decades the ANC led the struggle against apartheid, which resulted
in the democratic breakthrough of 1994 and a period of progressive
political, social, cultural and economic advance for all our people.
It is these advances that are now under threat because of the HIV/AIDS
The ANC as a political organisation, was the first to develop a plan
for AIDS and it remains at the forefront of our people's fight against
this scourge guided by policy and programmes based on the thesis that HIV
PREVENTION IS OUR BEST DEFENCE
Preventing the spread of the HIV virus is the best defence against
The virus can be transmitted from one person to another mainly through
unprotected sexual intercourse, through blood transfusion, intravenous
drug use, the exchange of blood through cuts and sores, or between a
pregnant or breastfeeding women and her child.
People should therefore be encouraged to follow the simple
ABSTAIN from sex for as long as
BE FAITHFUL to your sexual partner.
you cannot abstain or be faithful, use a condom everytime
National government has spent over R500m largely for public awareness
campaigns to promote this message. This is in addition to allocations by
provincial governments and expenditure on clinical work such as the
management of opportunistic infections. During the last financial year
alone, government distributed more than 200 million condoms through the
public health system.
The government has introduced the HIV policy for learners and educators
which has led to the inclusion of life skills programmes as a compulsory
part of the curriculum in schools. We call on all parents to support this
initiative as a necessary intervention for the future of our children.
Adequate treatment of sexually transmitted diseases also reduces the
spread of HIV.
TREATMENT FOR PEOPLE WITH HIV INFECTION AND AIDS
To manage HIV infection requires, as a starting point, identifcation of
those who are infected in a non-discriminating and non-threatening way.
The ANC-led government is therefore increasing access to counseling and
voluntary testing at health facilities and non-medical sites. It is
promoting the use of rapid tests that have proven to be accessible, and
A second area of focus is the treatment of opportunistic infections
such as pneumonia, diarhoea, skin infections and fungal infections. It has
been shown in many countries that if opportunistic infections are
diagnosed early and managed rigorously, people who are HIV positive can
lead longer and productive lives.
The ANC-led government shall continue to support the treatment of those
who present themselves to the public health system for any condition as
best we can and within the resource constraints we face regardless of
their HIV status. Guidelines for health workers on how to treat and manage
opportunistic infections have recently been published.
ACCESS TO AFFORDABLE MEDICINES AND TREATMENT
The ANC promotes affordable and equitable access to medicines for all
our people. We support the efforts of government to engage the
pharmaceutical companies as part of the international effort to ensure
affordable access to medicines, including medicines used against HIV/AIDS
in the developing world.
At the same time, we reiterate that as a country, we currently cannot
afford the use of antiretrovirals for wide scale treatment at their
current prices. In addition we do not have adequate infrastructure
necessary to monitor any widespread introduction of antiretroviral drugs
for treatment purposes in the public health system.
There is a lot of evidence that where antiretrovirals are introduced
without the necessary meticulous follow-up, which requires good laboratory
support, then the outcomes are at times worse than if people had not been
put on these drugs at all.
We are firm in our view that the interests of public health and those
of our people are better served by government investing in the all round
development of a robust public health infrastructure and health system to
better confront the many diseases we face Ð such as TB, malnutrition,
malaria, cholera and opportunistic infections Ð as opposed to spending all
our limited resources on the purchase of antiretrovirals.
This approach is consistent with that of many other countries and is
backed by solid scientific evidence, which indicates that early and
aggressive treatment of opportunistic infections leads to a prolonged,
good quality, and fully productive life.
Our programme also includes fighting discrimination against people
living with HIV/AIDS and creating a supportive and caring social
environment for AIDS orphans and other affected individuals. Many legal
and other measures already in place prohibit discrimination against those
with HIV/AIDS including at work and in our schools.
The ANC supports the current negotiations between the Ministry of
Health and the pharmaceutical industry on the reduction of drug prices,
which are facilitated by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and UNAIDS.
MOTHER TO CHILD TRANSMISSION
The prevention of Mother to Child Transmission (MTCT) remains one of
our major challenges. Our goal is to prevent the transmission of HIV from
an HIV positive mother to the child and to assist the mother to sustain
the HIV negative status of the child.
While antiretroviral drugs such as AZT and Niverapine have been shown
to reduce the transmission of the virus from mother to child during
pregnancy and childbirth, this could be reversed if the mother breastfeeds
the baby. The long-term safety profile of these drugs has also not been
Bottle feeding is not a straightforward option since breastfeeding is
an important and well-established cultural practice and there are still
millions with no access to safe water and sanitation. It becomes important
therefore to link any medical intervention with sustainable safe, infant
feeding options so as to ensure real overall benefit.
The ANC supports the extension of research sites for Niverapine use so
that we can better understand some of the scientific and operational
challenges that will arise.
Another element in the reduction of MTCT is the effective management of
pregnant HIV positive mothers. Guidelines are being implemented in our
institutions to help reduce the transmission of HIV from mother to child.
Amongst others, it include vigorous treatment of opportunistic infections
with a special focus on sexually transmitted diseases and non-invasive
methods of monitoring the foetus.
FIGHTING THE HIV/AIDS EPIDEMIC IS A NATIONAL PRIORITY
As the movement that embodies the aspirations and hopes of our people,
the ANC, its members and cadres should lead with commitment and dedication
the programme to turn the tide of the epidemic.