South Africa's health minister promised a dramatic increase in treatment for AIDS victims to overcome the legacy of a decade of governmental denial of the epidemic.
Barbara Hogan said the government wanted to provide AIDS drugs to 1.5 million people over the next three years—up from 700,000 at present, conceding that thousands were without the treatment they desperately need.
South Africa has an estimated 5.7 million people infected with HIV—the most of any country in the world—and nearly 1,000 people die every day of AIDS-related diseases. But former President Thabo Mbeki and his health minister downplayed the crisis. Since 1996 life, expectancy in South Africa has fallen by 12 years, maternal mortality is higher than in Iraq, and three times more children under five die than in Brazil."We cannot let the economic crisis paralyze us,"
said Sidibe,head of UNAIDS . "Stimulus packages and economic adjustments should be made with a human face in mind. A mother should not have to choose between continuing AIDS treatment and feeding her children. We cannot let down the 4 million people on treatment and millions more in need today."