The South African government has invited a representative of the Treatment Action Campaign, to be part of the official country delegation to the U.N. General Assembly Special Session on HIV/AIDS in May.
Sibani Mngadi, the Health Ministry spokesman told press that he hopes that this invitation to join the official South African delegation to the United Nations will resolve a dispute with the organization. The original exclusion of Treatment Action Campaign from the delegation caused an international outcry. The Campaign is one of South Africa's foremost private HIV/AIDS organizations, clashing frequently over the past five years with the government, both on and off the courts, on the government's response to the pandemic.
The United Nations resolution for the special session called on member states to include civil society representatives in their delegations. The session will take place in New York over three days from May 31 reviewing the progress that the world has made in implementing the Declaration of Commitment on HIV and AIDS adopted by the General Assembly in 2001.
Mngadi also stated that in addition to the Treatment Action Campaign, the government has extended the invitation to 13 other civil society delegates representing a wide range of sectors in society, including women, youth, business, academics, those dealing with children, and people living with AIDS. The leader of the delegation will be a member of the cabinet, he said, but it is not yet decided whether it will be controversial Minister of Health Manto Tshabalala-Msimang.
She is known for her support of unorthodox treatments for AIDS, including eating large quantities of garlic, olive oil and beetroot.The Treatment Action Campaign has not yet responded to the invitation.
Meanwhile the AIDS activists are showing anger and resentment on Jacob Zuma, a 64-year-old former deputy president, head of the South African Aids Council and the Moral Regeneration Movement on his having sex with a HIV-positive woman. Zuma denied the rape charges but admitted having unprotected consensual sex with the woman. The safe sex advocacy organisations were thrown into disarray and were furious last week when Zuma told the court that he thought taking a shower after having sex with an HIV-positive woman was enough to prevent transmission of the virus.
AIDS activists are furious at the impact the rape trial will have on campaigns to promote safe sex in South Africa. The country has over five million infected people, one of the highest HIV figures in the world. The Treatment Action Campaign spokesperson Nokhwezi Hoboyi, said that the country should be able to expect more from their political leaders. She stated that they of all people should be better informed, and that it was a completely irresponsible action because the risk is very high with over two million men having contracted HIV through having unprotected sex with women. There's no evidence whatsoever that a shower will make any difference. She said condoms weren't 100 percent effective but they're the best we've got at the moment.