A new plan is needed to fight HIV

MORE than 3000 men from across the African continent will converge on the Orlando Communal Hall in Soweto tomorrow.

MORE than 3000 men from across the African continent will converge on the Orlando Communal Hall in Soweto tomorrow.

Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe will deliver the keynote address at this ground-breaking event.

I have also accepted an invitation to speak at this venue situated not far from the historic and recently revamped Orlando Stadium.

I must hasten to admit that I have been vehemently opposed to any intervention designed in a manner that inadvertently excludes or gives preference to one group over the other. I have always maintained that any intended solution to any challenge must include all the role players.

But after much persuasion and the threat of tooth extraction, I have agreed to alter my thinking and my attitude towards resolving some of our social ills.

So, this NAPWA-led meeting of like-minded men is critical if we are to advance towards the accomplishment of the eradication of the oppressive, exploitative and abusive tendencies of those among us who have no respect for other humans.

Having said that, the thrust of my speech will be summarised into a four-point plan.

Firstly, the treament and access to medication, in all forms and by all interested parties, is critical. Importantly, our government must drastically increase the number of people living with HIV who are on anti-retroviral treatment.

Secondly, the economic emancipation of people living with HIV is the ultimate objective, so that the burden of dependency on the government is lessened. Personally, I wonder what BEE means for the massive community of people living with HIV.

Thirdly, my infected heart and those of millions of people living with HIV is crying out for the unification of forces in our leadership. NAPWA and the Treatment Action Campaign must commit themselves to finding common ground, in the interest of all our people.

The Deputy President, as chairperson of the SANAC, must be appointed to facilitate this historical process.

Finally, the pharmaceutical industry must be put under pressure to increase the momentum of marching towards finding a cure for HIV and Aids.

Their laissez-faire attitude is unacceptable and has already cost us millions of precious lives.

After all, a cure remains the ultimate prize.