While a number of important interventions have been implemented to
respond to the HIV crisis, there has been a lack of leadership from the highest
political level, especially from President Mbeki and the Minister of
Health, the TAC said in its submission on Friday.
This lack of leadership which has been epitomised by expressions of
support for pseudo-scientific views on the HIV epidemic had resulted in a
lack of co-ordination at national level, said the Aids lobby group, launched in
There are an estimated that between 4.5 million and 6.3 million people in
South Africa are living with HIV, with young women and girls between the ages of
25 and 29 most at risk of infection. There is a prevalence rate of 23.3
percent among men aged 30 to 39.
Of particular concern was the infection of an estimated 400,000 more people a
year - 1000 a day on average, the TAC said.
Some 500,000 South Africans were thought to have Aids, but were not on the
highly active antiretroviral therapy without which almost all of them were
expected to die in the next three years.
About 110,000 public sector and 80,000 private sector patients were receiving
The HIV epidemic has resulted in a crisis of mortality. Life-expectancy
in South Africa has dropped from over 60 in 1996 to just over 50 in 2005,
the TAC said. Some 300,000 people died of Aids last year, it added.
Quoting international treaties and legal documents, the TAC said a
substantial duty rested on the state to combat the spread of the disease.
However, there were problems with many of the existing prevention and
It was a sign of the strength of South Africa's democracy that the country
had responded with interventions inconsistent with the denialist position
despite the president's and health minister's lack of leadership.
The president, minister of health and other government officials have
on numerous occasions conducted themselves unfittingly in the response to the
HIV epidemic, abused their power and obstructed the response to the epidemic.
They continue to do so, the TAC told the APRM.
It contended that successful aspects of the HIV response had occurred despite
the president and health minister, and not because of them.
Their actions, or the actions of other officials acting under their
instruction or perceived approval, have on frequent occasions been examples of
anti-democratic behaviour and poor governance, the TAC continued.
It went on to express concern at the perceived lack of oversight Parliament's
portfolio committee of health had over the health department and its minister. -
The full text of the TAC report to the African Peer Review
Mechanism can be accessed at: