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Shopsteward Volume 27: Special Bulletin

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Media Centre  |  COSATU Press Statements

World Aids Day Work Stoppage


"Stop Aids: Leadership and Unity"

The Congress of South African Trade Unions is calling upon all its members and all South Africans to join the 30-minute national work stoppage at mid-day on Monday 1 December 2008 - World AIDS Day, the 20th anniversary of this day.

COSATU has joined the Government, the SA National Aids Council (SANAC), the Treatment Action Campaign - and the Nedlac government, business, labour and community constituencies - in a united campaign to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS and TB.

Workplaces, businesses, schools, churches and communities will stop whatever they are doing at 12h00. Motorists are asked to put on their headlights and pull over. Churches will ring their bells. This is the first time in the history of the HIV epidemic in South Africa that every major sector has united for a common purpose.

We will begin at mid-day with a minute of silence, to remember all those we have lost to the AIDS pandemic and then talk about how we are going to recommit ourselves to the fight to stop HIV and TB infections and deaths from AIDS, get the prevention messag e across and ensure that ARV treatment is made available for all who need it.

Every day 1,000 people are dying from AIDS-related infections, and another 1,450 people are becoming HIV infected. 60 000 babies are born with HIV every year. With the young and working age dying in droves, South Africa`s death statistics resemble those of a country in a terrible war.

At least 70% of the case load in the public health system is now taken up by HIV/ AIDS cases, crowding out the capacity to treat other medical conditions. Moreover, while we still cannot treat more than half the 800,000 needing anti-retroviral treatment no w, that number is going to rise to 5,5 million within five years, as people already HIV infected reach full-blown AIDS.

The shortage of antiretroviral treatment (ART) in the Free State and the national condom shortage violate our rights to life and to health. On Monday Government must account for why these shortages have come about and how they can be prevented in the futur e. Government must also implement plans for immediate interventions to end these shortages.

One of the targets of the National Strategic Plan (NSP) is to reduce the number of new HIV infections by 50% by 2011. On Monday we need to discuss whether this and the other targets set out in the NSP are being met, how well is government and SANAC, the bo dy guiding the NSP, implementing and monitoring its targets at the primary healthcare level?

Everyone has the right to receive the life-saving treatments they need. Scaling-up ART and Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission programmes, which still fails to reach 40% of women, must be national priorities beyond the limitations of a one-day celeb ration.

Questions to ask during the 30 minutes

Among the questions we are urging people to ask themselves during the stoppage are:

  • Have I tested for HIV? If not, why not?
  • Have I talked to my family and children about preventing HIV? If not, why not?
  • Do I understand about HIV medicines and how they work?
  • How can I stop discrimination?
  • How can I give leadership - at home, at work, at school?

COSATU calls on all of our leaders and citizens to follow the fine example of its Central Executive Committee members on 25 November, and get tested for HIV. Get tested, get treated!

We have to turn the tide! 1 December 2008 must become the turning point in stopping HIV infections and deaths in South Africa.