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Criticism over Mandela’s initial hesitancy on AIDS

…At the time, there was a marked reluctance on the part of the South African government to fund anti-retroviral drugs for those with HIV.

The then President Mbeki outraged many people when he told a US journalist that “personally, I don’t know anybody who has died of Aids” and that he did not know if he had ever met anyone infected with HIV.

…In November 2003, Mr Mandela – and his Nelson Mandela Foundation – stepped up the campaign, launching an HIV/Aids fundraising campaign called 46664, after his prison number on Robben Island.

He compared the urgency and drama of his country’s struggle against HIV/Aids to the fight against apartheid.

Pop stars like Beyonce, Youssou N’Dour and Dave Stewart supported the campaign, and a star-studded concert, held in Cape Town in 2003, was seen by a worldwide television audience of two billion.

When endorsing HIV scepticism becomes analogous to being pro-apartheid the nut becomes tougher to crack. History, I’m certain, though, will honour Mbeki for standing up to a sort of medical colonialism.

[Source: BBC News]

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