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(July 18, 1918 – December 5, 2013)


During my lifetime I have dedicated myself to this struggle of the African people. I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.

—Nelson Mandela
Statement from the dock at the opening of the
defense case in the Rivonia Trial
Pretoria Supreme Court, South Africa, April 20, 1964

The world has made defeating AIDS a top priority. But tuberculosis remains ignored. Today we are calling on the world to recognize that we can’t fight AIDS unless we do much more to fight TB as well.

—Nelson Mandela
XV International AIDS Conference
Bangkok, Thailand, July 15, 2004[i]

Treatment Action Group salutes the achievements, life, legacy, and memory of Nelson R. Mandela, freedom fighter, prisoner at Robben Island, president of the African National Congress (ANC), from 1994 to 1999 South Africa’s first freely-elected President, and the man whose plea to his colleagues led to the establishment of South Africa’s public-sector HIV treatment program, now the world’s largest.

Here Zackie Achmat, cofounder of South Africa’s Treatment Action Campaign (TAC), explains the magnitude of Mandela’s accomplishments and describes the call from Mandela that led Zackie to start taking antiretroviral therapy (ART), and then to the initiation of the HIV treatment program in the country with the world’s largest HIV pandemic.

Today South Africa has the world’s largest HIV testing, treatment, and chronic-disease program, which, according to Zackie, means Mandela saved at least two million lives.

About two million South Africans are now receiving HIV therapy.

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[i] Erika Check. Mandela launches fight against HIV and TB. Nature. 15 July 2004.

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