Profiles of LGBT people, from the past and today – and celebrating their birthdays! All Birthdays →

Zachie Achmat

An internationally renowned AIDS activist, Zackie Achmat was born in Johannesburg, South Africa. In 1976, at age 14, he tried to set fire to his school during the Soweto uprisings, and later joined the African National Congress to protest apartheid. In the early 1990s, Achmat helped form and led the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC), an AIDS activist organization. South Africa had among the highest HIV-infection rates in the world, but its president, Thabo Mbeki, denied that HIV caused AIDS. Achmat led protests to demand that the government provide anti-retroviral drugs to people with HIV. Through direct action TAC stopped drug companies from resisting the importing of affordable generic drugs. The campaign’s success led Time magazine to name Achmat a “Person of the Week” in 2001, one of many honors he has received. Achmat also started the National Coalition for Gay and Lesbian Equality, which won the elimination of sodomy laws and the legalization of same-sex marriage, among other victories. Achmat was featured in the documentary film, State of Denial (2003). In 2008 he married his long-time partner, Dalli Weyers.