Thousands of protesters marched on the streets of Durban in South Africa on Monday to demand access to treatment for “the twenty million people” across the world suffering from AIDS and tuberculosis.
The protests took place as the 2016 International AIDS conference got underway in Durban.
The march was to highlight the slow pace of delivery of therapy for HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.
Our young people are dying at a rate that should frighten us and yet somehow we just don't talk about them at all.
“This is a global march for access to antiretroviral treatment for the twenty million people in different parts of the world who still do not have treatment and who are still dying of AIDS and dying of tuberculosis,” said Mark Heywood, leader of the Campaign.
HIV/AIDS is the number one killer of adolescents in sub-Saharan Africa and the number two killer of adolescents globally.
South African-born actress Charlize Theron was unhappy the situation had not changed in spite of the dire statistics.
“This is not something that just affects Africans, this is a nation-wide, worldwide, global-wide issue. Our young people are dying at a rate that should frighten us and yet somehow we just don’t talk about them at all. They are the forgotten ones,” she said.
At the epicentre of the worldwide AIDS pandemic, South Africa now boasts of the largest treatment programme in the world, with 3.4 million people living with HIV having access to antiretroviral (ARV) drugs to enable them live normal lives.
In spite of this progress, South Africa still has the highest number of people living with HIV which is at seven million representing 19 percent of the adult population.