The National Health Laboratory Service (NHLS) is vital to our health system. It conducts virtually all diagnostics for the public health system. This also includes HIV viral loads, CD4 counts, TB culture and resistance tests. It is a functioning institution. But it is facing bankruptcy and collapse because the Gauteng and Kwazulu-Natal Provincial Departments of Health have failed to pay it.
Today is World AIDS Day and this year we are marking 30 years since the discovery of AIDS. We can claim great successes in the response over the last decade. We have seen a shift from where people were dying with no access to treatment to about 7 million on treatment globally. But last week all that progress was put at risk.
Today, World Aids Day 2011, The Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) and SECTION27 submit this open letter and make the following demands to HIVEX Limited (HIVEX). Despite the lack of any scientific evidence that HIVEX treatment is an effective treatment for HIV, HIVEX continues to promote and provide it for this purpose.
Today, 1 December 2011, World AIDS Day, TAC and SECTION27 join the rest of South Africa and the world in welcoming the launch of a new five year National Strategic Plan on HIV, TB and STIs (2012-2016). The plan’s target is that by 2016 80% of people are on ARV treatment, that deaths from TB have been halved, and that new HIV infections are cut by 50%. This plan is unique, because millions of people’s lives depend on its successful implementation. Already there are over a million people on treatment. By the time the plan is complete that number must be three million.
On 27 November 2011, Marian Shinn – the DA spokesperson on science and technology – issued a press release entitled “Zuma must fast track approval for HIV/Aids gel”. In accusing the Medicines Control Council (MCC) of subjecting the Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa (CAPRISA) “to a bureaucratic ping-pong match”, Shinn raised concerns about alleged delays in the approval of CAPRISA’s proposed clinical trial (CAPRISA 008).
The TAC is an award winning South African social movement campaigning to save the lives of people living with HIV and TB. In the 12 years since it was established TAC has helped to save and better millions of people’s lives in South Africa. It has also contributed to the deepening of democracy in South Africa, through its use of the courts, advocacy and promotion of human rights constitutionalism. Internationally, TAC has been one of the most influential AIDS activist movements; an organisation that has catalysed action on HIV/AIDS across the world. Yet today TAC faces a real threat of imminent closure due to a dire funding crisis.
Premier Helen Zille is once more raising  the spectre of criminalising HIV transmission. This is an old debate.
Below are two articles by Nathan Geffen (TAC) and Gavin Silber in response to premier Helen Zille's views on HIV transmission, criminalisation and who deserves treatment. The Premier's response to the critique of her views by Geffen and Silber is also included.
The North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria has ruled in favour of the Medicines Control Council (MCC) and others in a matter concerning Adcock Ingram’s resistance to the MCC’s decision to cancel the registration of drugs containing dextropropoxyphene (DPP). The MCC made the decision in April 2011 after coming to the conclusion that the risks posed by such medicines outweigh their benefits.