Fighting inequalities in AIDS treatment

BMJ 2002; 324 doi: (Published 26 January 2002) Cite this as: BMJ 2002;324:192

Judge Edwin Cameron tells Pat Sidley he would like to leave the AIDS debate but can't until it becomes rational and truthful

It is all too easy to assume that Judge Edwin Cameron's background matches that of many white lawyers in South Africa: middle class, privileged, English speaking, and “left liberal.” He also looks the part of the average white South African, sporty, outdoors-type: tall, well built, and handsome.

An Appeal Court judge at age 49, Cameron is seen as an icon of moral resistance to the present South African government's eccentric HIV/AIDS policies. His law career has paralleled that of many lawyers in South Africa, having worked actively with the law to oppose the previous government's apartheid policies and having become an expert in civil rights and public interest law.

But the similarities end there. Cameron has AIDS, is gay (and open about this), and comes from a background of deprivation and poverty. He was a phenomenon in South Africa, colloquially referred to as a “poor white” and raised in a children's home as his Afrikaans mother could not care for him and his sisters after divorcing his alcoholic and sometimes abusive father.

He attended eight schools in almost as …

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