Letter to the Editor
To the Editors:
As the authors remark this “has been a remarkable medical accomplishment.”
As someone who has lived through the epidemic in South Africa, especially through the dark days of AIDS denialism and the lack of access to antiretroviral treatment, and who now witnesses the dramatic changes that access has brought about, I think Klausner et al1 are being a little modest.
I think of the times when I watched helplessly as young HIV-positive children lay struggling to breathe in a rural hospital. I think of the young woman I admitted with Pnarmocystis jimveci pneumonia. She asked me if she would get better. I cautiously reassured her that we would do our best. Our best was just not good enough, she died that night. I think of the young man who came in with a headache and mild confusion. His lumbar puncture showed cryptococcal meningitis. We did not even have Diflucan then. He died slowly over the next 10 days.
I think too of the lucky ones who have managed to get onto antiretroviral treatment since those dark days and are now living productive lives thanks to President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. I think of the overcrowded wards that now have empty beds. But most of all I think of the face of the mother who discovered her young baby's HIV test was negative. The joy of that mother's smile lives on.
Thank you for highlighting the success of this program. I can but add my thanks to all those who developed and funded the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief initiative. I am also extremely grateful that our present Health Minister, Dr Aaron Motswaledi, is showing real leadership in working with the American people in bringing about the most remarkable medical accomplishment I have ever witnessed.
David Cameron, MBChB, MPrax Med, MPhil
Family Medicine University of Pretoria Pretoria, South Africa
1. Klausner JD, Serenata C, O'Bra H, et al. Scale-up and continuation of antiretroviral therapy in South African treatment programs, 2005-2009. J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr