The Treatment Action Campaign's Struggle for AIDS Treatment in South Africa: Coalition-building Through Networks
Journal of Southern African Studies
The Treatment Action Campaign (TAC), South Africa's – and probably the world's – most prominent AIDS activist movement, emerged in the context of state-supported AIDS denialism and government resistance to evidence-based responses such as antiretroviral treatment. TAC's forceful campaigns against denialism and in favour of the provision of antiretroviral drugs are widely lauded and even credited with the dramatic policy turnaround in South Africa. This study draws on extensive interviews with TAC leaders and members to provide a detailed historical narrative of the emergence and impact of TAC, while employing a range of theoretical approaches to help explain its influence. It describes how TAC's founders drew on their experiences and networks from the anti-apartheid struggle to build the movement and construct new local and international support networks in order to gain influence. It concludes that TAC succeeded in leveraging ‘networks of influence’ (which also included scientists, bureaucrats and politicians) to contribute to the formation of a moral consensus on treatment access and the construction of an inclusive coalition that pursued policy change.