Op-Ed: TAC – We cannot ignore our moral responsibility


The Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) puts a human face on the continuing HIV epidemic, and, perhaps more importantly, puts a human face on the constitutionally entrenched right to health more broadly. With over 8,000 volunteers in 192 branches, across seven of South Africa’s provinces, it also provides government, public health specialists and civil society with crucial information about the impact of failing health systems on ailing health and helps to keep us in touch with the lived reality of HIV. As Archbishop Desmond Tutu has passionately warned, “AIDS is not over”. UNAIDS estimates suggest that nearly 300,000 people die of AIDS-related causes every year in South Africa. As young South African human rights activists committed to transforming our country we make this plea: saving TAC means propping up our health system. Saving TAC means saving lives. 

In 1993, while our Constitution was still being negotiated and written and as our democracy was taking its first breaths, the Aids Law Project (ALP) was established as the first specialist legal organisation in sub-Saharan Africa aimed at providing legal assistance to HIV and AIDS which placed the protection of human rights at its core. Founded by Justice Edwin Cameron and the first home in AIDS activism for internationally acclaimed activists such as Zackie Achmat and Mark Heywood, the ALP went on to play a significant role in the fights with both President Mbeki’s shameful AIDS denialism and pharmaceutical companies’ rampant profiteering off of lifesaving antiretroviral treatments.

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