AIDS Treatment and Human Rights in Context by Peris S. Jones (auth.)

By Peris S. Jones (auth.)

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In this context, a mother told me about how her distrust of ARVs had led her and her husband to withhold treatment from their sick daughter in preference to traditional remedies. Shortly afterwards, the child died. But in a cruel chronological twist of fate, South Africa was only just beginning to emerge from racial oppression at the same time as the epidemic began to snowball. This meant that such racialized interpretations of AIDS were only becoming more amplified. Of course, this did not have to be the case.

But still, in the first half of 2007, this “treatment gap”—the difference between numbers on ARVs in the 26 O AIDS Treatment and Human Rights in Context public sector (257,108) and those that should be on ARVs according to the Department of Health’s Operational Plan (716,771)—is estimated at 459,663, or 64 percent of those in need of treatment (Joint Civil Society Monitoring Forum, 2005). In other words, only 36 percent are accessing treatment. How did it come to pass that a state seemingly so well equipped in comparison to all other African states has been outperformed by many of them?

Another factor concerns the influence of a popularly elected political party credited with liberation. Without any significant challenge from discredited, and small opposition parties, the ANC nonetheless felt it imperative to imprint party loyalty upon its members. The AIDS response reveals that such loyalty has been to the cost of discouraging internal dissent (see “Contestations and Court Cases” section of this chapter). Party loyalty has been paramount, hindering both the capacity and independence of the civil service in South Africa to respond to AIDS (Heywood 2003).

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