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Speaking Truth to Power: The Story of the AIDS Law Project

Resource type: News

Didi Moyle |

Today South Africa has laws that protect the rights of people living with HIV/AIDS and the largest treatment programme in the world. This would not have happened without the dedicated activism of a small legal NGO in Johannesburg, the AIDS Law Project (ALP).

For more than a decade, the ALP and their allies in the Treatment Action Campaign mobilised alliances with civil society, religious groups and trade unions to take on the South African government, the global pharmaceutical giants and big business for the rights of people living with HIV/AIDS, and in particular their right to comprehensive treatment in the public health sector.

In Speaking Truth to Power: The Story of the AIDS Law Project, the ALP’s story is told through their clients and major legal cases. It is a story about the resurgence of activism in post-apartheid South Africa, and how a small group of people were able to use the Constitution and the law to do some extraordinary things at an exceptionally difficult time.

Marching for access to treatment at the opening of the 13th International AIDS Conference in Durban in July 2000, (from left) Asia Russell, Midi Achmat, Teresa Raizenberg, Nathan Geffen, Faizel Slamang, Jonathan Berger, Fatima Hassan, Mark Heywood, Toby Casper, Cathi Albertyn.
“This book … records a momentous struggle for life and health. It pays tribute to the activists whose courage and foresight led to triumph in that struggle.”

– Edwin Cameron, Constitutional Court Of South Africa, in the book’s foreword
“I am confident that those who read this rich history of the AIDS Law Project will be inspired to continue the pursuit of a just, humane and more equal society.”

– Cyril Ramaphosa, Deputy President, Republic of South Africa. Read full letter > (PDF)

Buy the Book

Speaking Truth to Power (Jacana Media) is available in bookshops and online

Learn More

> Visit Section27 website

(In 2010, the AIDS Law Project became part of Section27, a new NGO named after the provision of the South African Constitution dealing with social and economic rights.)

VIDEO: Author Didi Moyle speaks with Creamer Media’s Leandi Kolver about the origins and impact of the AIDS Law Project.

About the Author

After a career in journalism and more than 13 years in government, Didi Moyle is now a freelance writer, strategist, researcher and life coach. Her next project is a case study of the 11 years she spent working in tourism.


The AIDS Law Project (via University of The Witwatersrand Foundation) and the Treatment Action Campaign are Atlantic grantees.

Atlantic commissioned this book.

Related Resources



Global Impact:

South Africa


AIDS Law Project, Treatment Action Campaign