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[afro-nets] GMHC Condemns Shooting by South African Police Services

  • From: Gregg Gonsalves <Greggg@GMHC.org>
  • Date: Thu, 14 Jul 2005 11:30:52 -0400

GMHC Condemns Shooting by South African Police Services of
Peaceful Protesters Demanding Treatment

Gay Men's Health Crisis (GMHC) condemns the South African Police
Services for opening fire on Tuesday, July 12 with rubber bul-
lets and tear gas on unarmed, peaceful protesters demanding ac-
cess to AIDS treatment in Queenstown in the Eastern Cape region
of the country. Forty people were injured and ten were treated
for gunshot wounds with one person admitted to hospital for
treatment of her injuries. At least ten of the injured people
were people who live openly with HIV/AIDS. The majority of the
protesters were women. At no stage was there violence, threat of
violence or any form of provocation.

"This assault on people living with HIV/AIDS who had assembled
peacefully to demand their right to AIDS treatment is shameful,"
said Ana Oliveira, Executive Director of Gay Men's Health Cri-
sis. "We stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters at
the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) on this sad day and re-
affirm our commitment to ensuring all of those who need AIDS
treatment around the world receive it. Health care is a basic
human right, not a privilege only for those who can afford it."

South Africa is home more than 5 million people living with
HIV/AIDS. In November 2003, the government committed to provid-
ing 53,000 patients with free antiretroviral treatment for
HIV/AIDS by March 2004. By March 2005, only about half that num-
ber were receiving treatment, according to TAC. Human rights or-
ganizations have criticized the slow progress of the roll-out
and the South African government's hostile attitude towards
HIV/AIDS treatment programs.

The demonstration yesterday followed six months of failed nego-
tiations with provincial and local health authorities about ac-
cess to antiretroviral treatment for persons with HIV/AIDS. In
December 2004, the Eastern Cape Health Department stopped pro-
viding treatment to new patients until further notice. The gov-
ernment referred patients already on treatment to Frontier Hos-
pital in Queenstown, but activists say that hospital is treating
fewer than 200 of an estimated 2,000 people in need. Over fifty
patients have died while on the waiting list for treatment at
Frontier Hospital.

"The South African government's resistance to facing up to their
AIDS epidemic is a tragedy, which is compounded by what happened
yesterday. We urge the South African government to investigate
this incident fully and bring those responsible for this to jus-
tice," continued Ms. Oliveira.

Gay Men's Health Crisis (GMHC) is a not-for-profit, volunteer-
supported and community-based organization committed to national
leadership in the fight against AIDS. Our mission is to reduce
the spread of HIV disease, help people with HIV maintain and im-
prove their health and independence, and keep the prevention,
treatment and cure of HIV an urgent national and local priority.
In fulfilling this mission, we will remain true to our heritage
by fighting homophobia and affirming the individual dignity of
all gay men and lesbians. We provide services and programs to
over 15,000 men, women and families that are living with or af-
fected by HIV/AIDS in New York City. For more information,
please visit www.gmhc.org

Noel Alicea
Manager, Communications and Media Relations
Gay Men's Health Crisis
119 West 24 Street
New York, NY 10011
Tel: +1-212-367-1216
Fax: +1-212-367 1236

NOTE: If an email bounces back to you from GMHC, please copy
email to my personal account at gregggonsalves@earthlink.net.

Gregg Gonsalves
Director of Treatment and Prevention Advocacy
Gay Men's Health Crisis
119 West 24th Street
New York, NY 10011
Tel: +1-212-367-1169
Mobile: +1-646-250-8130
Fax: +1-212-367-1235