Life-saving treatment

Life-saving treatment

A number of people have over the years played a role in the development of the TAC and our battle for antiretrovirals. There are too many to mention. In the following pages a small group of people who played a role in one way or another and represent various constituencies, share their recollections of the past and their dreams for the future.

Hazel Tau’s powerful story of living with HIV and not being able to afford the lifesaving medication played a key role in a groundbreaking complaint, which ultimately led to affordable medicines. A complaint around the excessive pricing of antiretrovirals was lodged with the Competition Commission in 2002. The Competition Commission investigated the complaint and found in 2003 that there was a case that had to be answered for. Before it could reach the court, pharmaceutical companies negotiated with the TAC for the release of voluntary licenses for seven drugs, paving the way for affordable generic alternatives.

Ten years of ARVs. I started many years ago when when HIV/AIDS was a taboo. You can’t start to imagine how difficult it was to make a decision to start on treatment, which they told you would be for life. Despite the support offered by counsellors, friends and family, I still could not get my mind around taking this treatment.

Ultimately I made peace with it and I did take the medication and I can honestly say I do not regret the decision I made. When I started on treatment, it was a challenge because I had to adjust my social life, drink carefully, stop some social habits, but I did it so I can today enjoy my life.

Looking back I wonder where I would be now if I had opted to live carelessly?

It was not easy. The pill burden was huge and we had to take it three times a day. I had to sneak it in and hide it from some colleagues at work for fear of being ridiculed and stigmatised.

But I thank God for those who have been working diligently to reduce the pill burden – this has had a huge impact on our lives.

Today, taking ARVs is like taking daily food supplements. Wow! That is music to my ears.

So, for those who still think of ARVs as this huge elephant you have to tame, you can now relax knowing, its as easy as taking food supplements, but needless to say, with steadfast commitment for life.

ARVs saved my life!