Up to 5,000 people, including activists and people living and affected by HIV /AIDS marched on Monday July, 18, 2016, jamming the streets of Durban to demand universal treatment, support, funding and care for all people living with HIV.
They started the march from King Dinuzuku Park, singing and shouting in solidarity as the 21st International AIDS conference took place under the theme ‘Access Equity Rights Now’.
Holding placards with messages calling for quality treatment for all, the march attracted people from all walks of life, young, old, sex workers, transgender, men who have sex with men and activists.
Amanda Lugg the chairperson of the Health Global Access Project (GAP) called for more funding for the comprehensive treatment and care of the key HIV population.
Lugg said: “HIV is reality, we are dying yet policy makers are keeping quiet about it, the donors are shifting their attention from HIV. We are here to publicly voice our suffering to the world to re-focus on HIV in order to save us and the new generation,” she said.
She said over 20 million people in world still lack access to HIV antiretroviral drugs, adding that the health systems especially in lower income countries are broken.
“Our health systems are falling apart and this is unacceptable to us who are living and affected by HIV. We demand accountability from our world leaders to end this epidemic,” she added.
Chris Thoko one of the young people living with HIV told Key Correspondents that the world has forgotten about the young people in the HIV response.
“We are young and energetic and we have the capacity to drive HIV out of the world but we are not given space and platforms to discuss the issues affecting us. How does the world expect to kick out AIDS without the young people?” he asked.
Asia Russell one of the founders of Health GAP appealed to donor governments (to deliver) on AIDS and health funding and policies to fight homophobic and stigmatizing laws and to build the capacity of community activism and civil society networks.