During the HIV pandemic, doctors were traumatised by the government's indifference towards patients' lack of access to treatment. In the case of Covid-19, some physicians say, they have to cope with the devastating consequences of most of the country's health resources having been allocated to one disease.
I had been a doctor for a few years working on the front lines of South Africa's HIV pandemic when I met Jane*, a tough Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) activist who was herself HIV positive.
It was during the early 2000s and South Africa was still early in its haphazard denialist response to the virus. Jane had managed to secure funding for antiretroviral drugs -- at the time completely unaffordable in South Africa and only available to the wealthy -- for herself and a small number of people through TAC.
As a result, Jane's health improved.
She became pregnant and had an amazing kid. For a while, Jane was a success story -- she religiously took her medication, understood every aspect of her illness and was engaged and hopeful.
Unfortunately, she developed an unusual side effect to one of the drugs that threatened her health. I called in every favour I...