The Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) is an activist led organization that focuses on providing equal and affordable HIV treatment and prevention to the people of South Africa.[1]

About TAC[edit | edit source]

The Treatment Action Campaign was founded on December 10, 1998 by former anti-apartheid activist Zackie Achmat and ten other activists.[1] Achmat is famous for both his help establishing the equality clause in the South African Constitution, as well as his refusal to accept the historically expensive antiretrovirals until they were available to all South Africans.[2] The TAC advocates for increased access to treatment, care and support services for people living with HIV and campaigns to reduce new HIV infections primarily in districts of poor constituency.[1] The organization has more than 16,000 members and 267 branches in various districts around South Africa.[1] The TAC has been recently nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.[2]

Treatment Action Campaign logo

Vision and Approach[edit | edit source]

In 2011 there were an estimated 5.6 million people living with HIV in South Africa, the highest percentage of people in any country.[3] The TAC is working to lower this number and create a unified quality health care system which provides equal access to HIV prevention and treatment services for all people.[1] The TAC challenges the government and pharmaceutical companies alike to provide more comprehensive and affordable treatment options to the people of South Africa.[2][4] To do this, the TAC has provided treatment and prevention services in selected focus districts as a model for other districts.[1] The organization then uses these branches to provide a platform for individuals to mobilize and organize around HIV and health rights. The TAC has implemented three core programs to help fight for their cause: Prevention and Treatment Literacy (PTL), Community Health Advocacy (CHA), and Policy, Communications and Research (PCR).[1]

Individuals show their support by wearing HIV-Positive t-shirts

Media[edit | edit source]

The TAC produces a health magazine, EQUAL Treatment, that covers relevant HIV topics five times a year. To reach a larger South African population, the magazine is available in four languages: English, isiXhosa, isiZulu and Setsonga.[5] The magazine can be viewed online as a PDF document here, or individuals can be sent a hard copy here.

The TAC also employs the usage of 6 blogs each from a different district in South Africa. The blogs keep readers informed about HIV health information within their district. They are also updated with events happening within each district to keep the HIV community connected and up-to-date.[6]

The TAC produces various handouts and posters to relay information between the government and the general population. This form of media is used to reach a wider population, especially in lower class areas.

TAC is also responsible for the iconic "HIV-Positive" t-shirts that now stand as a unifying symbol of support for a cure to the virus.

TAC poster depicting new antiretroviral laws

Impact[edit | edit source]

As of 2011, the TAC has made significant impacts in HIV treatment and prevention services in South Africa. The organization has given out over 6 million condoms, advocating and bringing awareness to safe sex practices. They've distributed 1 million materials promoting their campaigns, as well as materials communicating new legislature concerning HIV/AIDS to the masses. The organization has also managed to provide HIV/AIDS treatment to over 1.5 million people.[1]

The TAC's activism has also been heard by pharmaceutical companies, including medical research company, Pfizer. The company was known to have a monopoly selling the oral anti-fungal medication, Diflucan. Pfizer was pressured by the TAC to drastically drop the prices of their medications, helping millions of people to access it.[2]

Furthermore, the organization has confronted the South African government pressuring them to face the realities of the virus. In 2009, President Zuma gave a speech denouncing AIDS denialism and announcing a number of changes that would be made to AIDS prevention and treatment policies. The President also implemented a national HIV counseling and testing program to test 15 million people.[4]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 "Zackie Achmat-Head of the Treatment Action Campaign." Interview by Pam Das. The Lancet July 2004: 467-70. Print.
  3. The National Antenatal Sentinel HIV and Syphilis Prevalence Survey, South Africa, 2011, National Department of Health.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Pillay, Y. "How times Have Changed – HIV and AIDS in South Africa in 2011." South African Medical Journal 102.2 (2012): n. pag. Print.

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Authors Keaton Jones
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Language English (en)
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Created April 5, 2013 by Keaton Jones
Modified June 9, 2023 by Felipe Schenone
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