South African government increases funding for HIV/Aids

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The Independent Online

The South African government announced plans to quadruple spending to combat HIV/Aids, signalling a change in its attitude towards the pandemic.

Trevor Manuel, the Finance Minister, said the government would spend 12.1bn rand (£1.1bn) over the next three years, including 5bn rand for anti-retroviral drugs.

The announcement was cautiously welcomed by Aids activists, while the opposition criticised the government for its "dithering and delay". President Thabo Mbeki has been accused of being in denial about the pandemic, which is killing 600 South Africans a day. The country's Aids victims include Mr Mbeki's spokesman, Parks Mankahlana.

A spokesman for the Treatment Action Campaign, an Aids activist group, said Mr Manuel's announcement was "a very good starting point".