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By Zinhle Mapumulo | Jun 18, 2010 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

HUNDREDS of Aids activists marched to the United States consulate in Sandton, Johannesburg, to hand over a memorandum.

Their grievances stem from the US's cutting of funding for HIV treatment.

For more than two hours the group camped outside the consulate yesterday, waiting for ambassador Donald Gips to come out and accept the memorandum.

They wanted to read it out to him before he accepted and signed it.

But US representative Tod Hofkins was instead sent to the marchers on behalf of the ambassador.

Hofkins accepted the memorandum and promised to pass on it to Gips.

The memorandum read: "We call on the US government to provide global leadership to achieve the millennium Development Goals including universal access to antiretroviral therapy.

"We would like to state that the Treatment Action Campaign and our allies acknowledge and appreciate that the US government, particularly through the President's Emergency Plan for Aids Relief and the US contributions to the Global Fund on Aids, TB and Malaria, has played a leading role in providing treatment, care and prevention for Aids as well as TB and malaria.

"Nevertheless, we continue to be concerned about US funding of health interventions targeting Aids, TB and malaria, particularly Pepfar. For example, it has been brought to our attention that from 2009 to 2010, the increase in Pepfar funding was only 2,3percent.

"A further 2,3percent increase has been requested for 2011.

"This is almost equal to the US rate of inflation and lower than the rate of inflation in many developing countries. Please can you confirm this."

The TAC, which is spearheading the campaign with other organisations, said it had not given the US a deadline to respond.

"All we need from Gips is to have a meeting with him to discuss these pressing issues," Mark Heywood of TAC said.

Earlier this week, it was reported that cheques issued by the US government to Aids organisations had been bouncing for the past few months.

But Health Department spokesperson Fidel Hadebe said he was not aware that Pepfar cheques, made out to the government, had bounced.


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