On a pleasant spring day in November 1998, some one hundred people paraded along a circuitous route through downtown Santiago in one of the first demonstrations by people with HIV and their supporters to demand access to the new life-saving antiretroviral drugs. The existence of these triple-combination drug treatments had been announced two years earlier at the Vancouver International AIDS Conference, although the news of the discoveries had trickled back to Santiago very slowly, in part due to the inexperience and sketchy English-language skills of the Chilean community delegates invited to attend. Chilean authorities, like those in many countries of the region, dawdled and dissembled on the chances that any of the several thousand citizens needing these therapies would get them in time to save their lives. Ministry officials never quite closed the door on the idea, nor did they commit the government to shouldering the considerable expense; eventually they would offer some drugs to some people. The event was deadly serious and at the same time brash and festive as the crowd surged occasionally into the street, then back onto the sidewalk to let cars pass, weaving past Santa Lucía hill—at other times one of the city’s main gay cruising areas—en route to the La Moneda presidential palace.
KeywordsPublic Health System Military Regime Military Rule Reproductive Health Issue Latin American Society
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