Target: South African Minister of Health, Aaron Motsoaledi
Goal: Applaud the South African government for significantly improving the treatment for HIV
South Africa has been plagued by HIV/AIDS for decades, and for that time, it was a death sentence for those who are diagnosed. Out of South Africa’s 53 million citizens a staggering estimated 5.5 million are infected with the virus. That is 10% of the citizens, which is the highest rate in any country.
However the South African government has reduced HIV/AIDS treatment expenses and increased accessibility of antiretroviral medication. The medication regimen has been simplified to a pill a day, which cost only $120 a year per patient. The newer medication has shown to be more tolerable for patients, and patients no longer have to travel grueling, daylong journeys to the city for medication and treatment. Thanks to new government expansion in healthcare, local clinics have opened in the rural extremities of South Africa that are fully equipped to diagnose, treat, and dispense medications to patients. The government has also prioritized its efforts in preventing the transmission of the virus to offspring. With proper treatment, HIV stricken women can still give birth to HIV-free offspring.
The previous South African President, Thabo Mbeki, fostered extremely toxic views on HIV/AIDS in the government and throughout the country. Mbeki had supported “dissident” scientists that claim HIV does not necessarily cause aids and that antiretroviral medication are poisonous. This toxic culture of HIV/AIDS denial and misinformation has caused unnecessary deaths due to Mbeki’s detrimental policies based on his misguided views. His minister of health, Dr. Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, perpetuated these views by advocating ridiculous cures like a regimen of beetroot, garlic, and lemon, which emphasizes the pervasiveness of ignorance in government. As a result of the ouster of his administration, the country has made great strides in getting back on track on combating this decades-old scourge. Unfortunately this decades-long denial of HIV/AIDS under the Mbeki administration has spread harmful misinformation into South African society that still needs to be addressed.
HIV is no longer a death sentence in South Africa, but instead a manageable disease if proper treatment is given. Sign this petition to applaud the South African government in taming and properly addressing this deadly disease.
Dear Mr. Motsoaledi,
Your administration’s efforts to combat HIV/AIDS is commendable. Accessibility and affordability for HIV diagnosis and treatment has stopped the hourglass for many patients. They are still able to live normal, fulfilling lives despite being infected, which had not been possible before.
However, your country still has a daunting task ahead of it. Effective prevention is the next hurdle that must be grappled with. Although the death rate of HIV/AIDS has been reduced significantly, more than 400,000 South Africans contract the disease annually. A campaign to educate the population is needed especially among youth who continue to contract the virus in staggering numbers. Mbeki’s lingering influence on the culture of HIV/AIDS denial needs to be eradicated through a campaign of sex and STD education.
Please continue to improve the lives of HIV/AIDS patients and stop the vicious cycle.
[Your Name Here]
Image Credit: tonrulkens via Flickr