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The UDM welcomes the announcement by the US that they will not take action against South Africa, if South Africa ignores intellectual property rights to obtain affordable drugs for HIV/AIDS. This clearly paves the way for government to provide affordable drugs to South Africans living with HIV/AIDS. In addition to the immediate health benefits, it also create opportunities for South African manufacturers of medicine.

The US decision comes amidst a further misguided announcement by the Department of Education to make provision for home-based teaching of children with HIV/AIDS. The UDM questions this strange stance as it brings to mind the dysfunctional treatments used for leprosy. Children should learn about the realities of their peers who are living with HIV/AIDS and not cocooned from reality.

Another horrific event during this past week was the rape of a 9-month-old baby by six males. This baby will be undergoing HIV tests this week, as it has also been brought to light that one of the rapist's wife has recently died of AIDS. The UDM calls for the protection and nurturing of children living with HIV/AIDS and sentences equal to that applicable to murderers for a HIV/AIDS-positive rapist who intentionally rape defenceless victims. There is an urgent need to beef up the Child Protection Unit, instead of scaling it down.

The New York Times has also sharply criticised Mbeki's stance on HIV/AIDS. Even though South Africa has the medical capacity to be an international leader in the fight against HIV/AIDS many of the poor die whilst their constitutional rights are being ignored because of a President who seems to care more about his own views than the reality of deaths of thousands.

The UDM calls on the government and the Minister of Health to urgently heed the mounting international criticism of the President's stance and to settle the Treatment of Mother-To-Child Transmission case out of court, and to protect our people. South African must demand proper care and hold the ANC government responsible for the death of thousands that could have been saved.

The UDM further calls on government to implement a national co-ordinated programme that includes protecting our children against rape, educating the nation on HIV/AIDS-related issues and implement policies that take into account the effect of HIV/AIDS on the economy, social development and the education system. The government and the ANC must stop vilifying Bishop Ndungane, and other religious and civil society groups who are genuinely concerned about the impact of HIV/AIDS.

Mr Bantu Holomisa, MP
UDM President

Cape Town
05 November 2001

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