Bishops: AIDS is a priority
SOUTH African bishops have urged their president to give more attention to the AIDS epidemic, rather than the Iraqi crisis.
While they "applauded" the South African government for its "role on the world stage in the growing movement to avert the tragedy of a war against President Saddam Hussein, in which hundreds of thousands of innocent people would suffer even greater hardship", they were disappointed at Mbelci's treatment of two "issues of vital consequence for south and southern Africa: the AIDS pandemic and the Zimbabwe crisis". President Thabo Mbeki is planning to visit Iraq on a peace mission.
South Africa, which has a population of about 43.5 million, has more people infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, than any other country. According to figures from the United Nations, one in five of the adult population is HIV positive.
In his February 14 state Of the nation address in Cape Town, Mr Mbeki said his government would continue to implement a comprehensive strategy on HIV and AIDS, including implementing a Constitutional Court ruling last year that the government provide the antiretroviral drug nevirapine to pregnant HIV positive women in state hospitals and clinics.