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Joint COSATU, SACC & TAC Press Statement:
Stepping up civil society action to prevent and treat HIV


Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), South African Council of Churches (SACC) & the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC)

23 November 2005

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On 22 November 2005 a historic meeting of the executive structures of COSATU, TAC and the South African Council of Churches took place. The meeting assessed the challenges of HIV prevention and treatment in South Africa. We resolved to build a better response within our organisations and in society generally.

Whilst we will continue to put pressure on our government to take a lead on the matter, we have decided to do what we must do to provide leadership to our own members and society on the matter. Leadership responsibility dictates that we act on behalf of our organisations as well as in our personal capacity.

The HIV epidemic has been permitted to go too far. We all believe that HIV is a disaster that is killing people in terrible numbers, and, as frightening, an epidemic where the numbers of people newly infected with HIV continues to grow. This can and must be changed.

COSATU, the SACC and TAC agree that the two critical pillars of a scaled up response are:

  1. Devising an effective national HIV prevention plan, that will break the stigma around HIV, encourage massive take up of voluntary HIV testing, and personal behaviour change to reduce the risk of HIV infection.
  2. Increasing the numbers of people who are accessing life-saving ARV treatment, with a target of at least 200,000 people receiving treatment by mid 2006 and an aim of universal access to treatment.
COSATU, the SACC and TAC have agreed on a unique programme of action, which will commence immediately. Among the decisions reflected in the programme of action are:

  • Joint activity on World AIDS Day 2005 to launch the campaign. This will take place in Durban and be linked to COSATU's 20th anniversary celebrations.
  • A joint campaign to stop the unlawful activities of Matthias Rath and similar charlatans and to make our communities aware of the dangers to them posed by false promises and information about HIV.
  • Organising a National Civil Society conference to agree a People's Charter and Plan to prevent HIV in March 2006.
  • Using May Day 2006 to put pressure on employers to ensure all employees have access to prevention information, counselling and treatment.
  • Finalising the 2003 NEDLAC Agreement on HIV Prevention and Treatment to ensure that all sections of our society (business, communities, labour and government) are working in synergy, with common responsibilities, targets and determination.
We urge every other organisation committed to these aims to join us.

Finally, all three of our organisations understand the complexity of HIV and the way in which the spread of the epidemic presents numerous developmental and social challenges. In view of this we have also resolved to set up a high-level commission on HIV and Development to continually develop and improve strategies around HIV prevention, care and treatment.

We can defeat HIV and we will.



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