AIDS Treatment and Human Rights in Context by Peris S. Jones (auth.)

By Peris S. Jones (auth.)

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In a sense related to these riots, while significant financial commitment has been made by the state to AIDS, as with other services, capacity issues continue to hinder delivery. In the face of significant skepticism and opposition to ARVs from government, and in the absence of a viable political opposition party, a significant force for change has come from civil society. The latter, in conjunction with the use of constitutional human rights and the courts, has been a very effective political source in contesting state AIDS policy responses.

The outcome, as suggested, has been, for a long time, uncannily similar to Western donors: until relatively recently, the South African government and Western donors alike had arrested the chances of poor people’s access to lifesaving treatment. These racial fault lines associated with HIV/AIDS and the issue of treatment show up again and again. These damaging statements and views continue to be embedded in public discourse and attitudes. The slow pace of rollout also appears correlated to the often-contradictory comments from the minister of health as well as the withdrawal of Mbeki from speaking publicly on the issue at all.

But Chapter 1 also locates AIDS treatment and the mounting disquiet over the position government preferred to take on it within the deep well of frustration surrounding service delivery more generally in South Africa. Countrywide protests over service delivery are indicative of deep-seated concerns over the direction of the country’s development path and especially the erosion of citizen leverage over services, including access to ARVs. Chapter 2 seeks to unpack the meaning of “access” to ARVs and human rights.

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