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HIV/AIDS activists in South Africa have filed manslaughter charges against the government for failing to provide antiretroviral drugs to AIDS patients.

On Thursday (20 March), more than 200 members of the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) marched to Sharpeville police station, south of Johannesburg to file charges of “unlawfully and negligently [causing] the deaths of men and women and children” against the minister of health, Manto Tshabalala-Msimang and minister of trade and industry, Alec Erwin.

They said the failure by the two government officials to provide sufficient antiretroviral drugs to thousands of AIDS patients was illegal.

The move is the first step in a nationwide civil disobedience campaign by the TAC that officially starts today and is the most serious confrontation yet over the government's controversial policy on AIDS. It follows legal action initiated in 2001, when the TAC took Tshabalala-Msimang and nine provincial health ministers to court for failing to provide drugs that could prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV.

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Treatment Access Campaign

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