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Mandela says AIDS, like apartheid, will lose

Mandela says AIDS, like apartheid, will lose

india Updated: Dec 01, 2003 21:23 IST

South Africa was now at the forefront of the world's fight against AIDS, according to, Nelson Mandela comparing the campaign to the long battle against apartheid.

Mandela was speaking from the island prison where he was held for 18 years before white rule ended in 1994. He was accompanied on the trip by Irish rock star Bono, American R&B sensation Beyonce and other singers due to perform at an AIDS benefit concert in Cape Town on Saturday.

Mandela, whose country is one of the main venues for events marking World AIDS Day on Monday, praised South Africa's recent decision to reverse years of policy and begin providing AIDS drugs to infected people.

"Our government announced policy measures that will once more put us in the lead to fight the epidemic. It is most fitting that this coming together happens so close on the heels of that groundbreaking announcement," Mandela told reporters.

The 85-year-old Mandela, who stepped down as South Africa's first black president in 1999, has become one of the world's leading campaigners on AIDS. The disease has hit South Africa harder than any other country with more than five million of its 45 million people infected. Bowing to widespread calls for a more aggressive approach to the epidemic, the South African government this month finally unveiled a plan to begin bringing anti-retroviral drugs to the public sector.

First Published: Dec 01, 2003 18:27 IST