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November 1, 2009

Zuma Rallies S. Africa to Fight AIDS

"In a culmination of his party’s major shift on AIDS, a disease that has led to plunging life expectancies here, President Jacob Zuma last week definitively rejected his predecessor’s denial of the viral cause of AIDS and of the critical role of antiretroviral drugs in treating it.

"Almost 10 years to the day after President Thabo Mbeki first suggested that AIDS drugs could pose “a danger to health” in an Oct. 28, 1999, speech in Parliament, Mr. Zuma declared Thursday in the same chamber, 'Knowledge will help us to confront denialism and the stigma attached to the disease.'

"In a country that now has more H.I.V.-infected people and annual AIDS deaths than any other, Mr. Zuma’s clarion call for a battle against the disease, six months into his term as president, led to rejoicing among advocates who had long sought such national leadership."

Read more in New York Times, October 31, 2009.