To understand the dignity and power of Barbara Hogan, one must first have some understanding of what she is made of: profound experience, dedicated service to her homeland, unflinching courage, conviction and compassion.
Hogan, 57, joined the African National Congress (ANC) after the Soweto uprising in 1976, even though the organization had been made illegal. She actively resisted apartheid and organized consumer boycotts, and for this, she served eight years of brutal incarceration in Pretoria Central Prison.
After being released in 1990, she rose through the ranks of the ANC and now has enough power that when President Kgalema Motlanthe appointed her Minister of Health in September 2008, she could engineer a radical change of South Africa's national AIDS policy.
Hogan's predecessor recommended garlic and beetroot as treatments for HIV. But Hogan stands up for truth, for what is right and for what must be done. She has acknowledged that HIV causes AIDS and has embraced antiretroviral drugs. She has pledged that pregnant mothers with the virus will be treated with nevirapine to stop transmission at birth ending a policy of denial that was responsible for the loss of an estimated 330,000 lives. Not bad for less than one year in office.
Stone is a longtime AIDS activist