History Project

“If you don’t know the trees you may be lost in the forest, but if you don’t know the stories you may be lost in life”

Siberian Elder

The story begins in the mid-1980’s with early hints of an HIV epidemic and ambiguity on the part of the government’s response. Fast forward and you have a lost decade of which some refer to its implications as a holocaust. AIDS denialism at senior government level is estimated to have resulted in the untimely death of 340 000 South Africans during the period from 1994 until 2004; now referred to as “the lost decade” by the current Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi. The progress of the AIDS epidemic in South Africa has been obscured by nationalist, scientific, medical, political, economic and ‘securitized’ discourses.

Memories of the lost decade are vivid in the minds of people who lived and worked with the devastation caused by this epidemic. These individuals fought to change this reality. The lessons learned during this time deserve to be remembered. Furthermore, the key individuals who contributed to ensuring that South Africa now has the largest AIDS treatment programme in the world needs to be acknowledged. This AIDS treatment programme has now become the largest in the world, thanks to their brave efforts.

The Oral History Project acknowledges that the lessons learnt are best conveyed by the human experience, in human voices by those who witnessed and experienced the events. Through this website you will be able to access the repository of stories, be reminded of the reality that swept the country and learn from the struggle against HIV/AIDS.

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