Young aids activist's death captures media attention

Johannesburg- South Africa (PANA) -- The leading story in South Africa this week is the death of 12-year-old Aids activist Nkosi Johnson.
"There cannot be a South African who has not been touched by the little Nkosi who so courageously and publicly epitomised the struggle against Aids in our country," writes 'Star' columnist Carol Lazar.
Aids has ravaged many families in South Africa, where nearly five million people have contracted HIV/Aids.
"The circumstances weren't easy for Xolani Nkosi Johnson.
In a country that had seen centuries of race based separation, being black is still a disadvantage in many places.
"But to be black, carry a publicised HIV infection and want to attend school in a trendy white suburb was the ultimate of hopes," says the 'Star' in an editorial.
"Yet that is what Nkosi did, thereby forcing a reluctant school and nation to confront their prejudices about the disease, which still carries so much stigma.
"In the end he got into Melpark primary school, there to survive the loneliness best known only by the infected.
" Other issues around fighting the deadly virus also receive attention in the media, probably as a result of Nkosi's death.
'The Citizen', a daily tabloid, reports that in Gauteng province more money have been made available to combat the spread of HIV/Aids.
The provincial department of education has allocated 9.
8 million rands from its 7.
417 billion rands budget to the fight against Aids.
(R8,08 = 1USD).
'The Citizen' also reports about the lack of HIV drugs at public hospitals.
Health minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang dashed speculation that the government was about to give a go-ahead to the use of antiretrovirals in state hospitals.
"Antiretrovirals are not a cure for HIV/Aids.
In addition, we remain concerned about aspects of toxity, the availability of laboratory services, and infrastructural and educational constraints, particularly in rural areas," Tshabalala-Msimang is quoted as saying.
There have been reports that a US pharmaceutical drug giant, Pfizer, would expand distribution of its antiretroviral drug Diflucan free of charge to HIV/Aids patients in 50 of the world's least developed countries.
Fluconazole is being distributed at no charge in South Africa.
Apart from the Aids story, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela is in the news this week after she spent the weekend in hospital being treated for high blood pressure.
While she was in hospital, police raided her Soweto mansion in search of a fugitive in a bank fraud case.
Newspapers report that police were tipped off that a man they were looking for in connection with bank fraud was hiding at Madikizela-Mandela's house.
Police were probing a fraud involving about R1 million in which fraudsters drew loans from Saambou Bank illegally by providing false information.
Some of the documents used to obtain the loans bore a signature similar to that of Madikizela-Mandela.
Stationery from the ANC women's league was used in the scam.
Police did not find the suspect there, but the man, Addey Moolman (46), later handed himself over to the police.

07 june 2001 20:11:00

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