Turning Point

The International AIDS Conference Makes a Commitment to Saving Third-World Lives

There is no harder way to learn anything than the way Sabina Khoza from South Africa found out she was infected. Her baby boy had diarrhea and TB, so the doctors tested him for HIV. He died a week later, the very day his test came back positive.

Her son's infection meant she also had the virus, but "I didn't tell anyone about the disease, not even my boyfriend," she says. When she finally told her mother, word spread and her brothers kicked her out. "They said I must take my clothes and go, because I might infect them," she recalls.

That was five years ago. Last week, Khoza was not only at the conference, she marched in the demonstration for drug access, wearing one of the T-shirts emblazoned with the block letters HIV-POSITIVE. What transformed her was meeting other infected people, who taught her that there is treatment. She takes vitamins, an herbal immune booster, and has managed to get into a clinical trial for antiretrovirals.

In her township, near the South African capital, Pretoria, 20 women have formed a support group. "Most are sick," Khosa says. "Some are full-blown sick. They must give us medicine!"*

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