January 2, 2003

AIDS activists on hunger strike

A seven-day hunger strike by Aids activists outside the offices of pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline in Midrand officially ended on Wednesday, January 1, but three activists began a second phase of the strike on Wednesday night.

The strike by members of the National Association of People living with Aids (NAPWA) was part of their "Seven Days Black Christmas" protest, demanding that anti-retroviral drugs should be provided free of charge; that banks and insurance companies should stop discriminating against HIV-positive people; and "uniformity" in the allocation of social grants by government.

On January 1, some of the activists experienced diarrhoea, stomach cramps, and opportunistic infections due to the lack of food. They were taken to various hospitals for medical attention.

The Department of Social Development urged the Aids activists on Thursday, January 2, to call off the second stage of their hunger strike and to join government in discussions to draw up a "uniform policy" on HIV/Aids. (SAPA)

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