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Dr. Rath Health Foundation
May 21, 2005

The South African HIV/AIDS treatment advocacy group Treatment Action Campaign is suing the Rath Foundation and its head, Matthias Rath. In its ads, the Rath Foundation suggests that TAC has misled people to believe that "exorbitantly expensive and highly toxic drugs like AZT and nevirapine" can successfully treat HIV infection.

Rath has been accused of being a denialist, but his website nowhere denies that HIV causes AIDS. He argues that HAART is toxic and that patients should use natural treatments to try to stay off drugs.

He may or may not be right but he should not be called a denialist.

Response from Dr. Conway

The decision to start on HAART or not is a difficult one to make, and needs to be done calmly and rationally on an individual basis.

The potential benefits of treatment need to be weighed against the possibility of short and long-term side effects. We must also discuss the need for adherence to increase the likelihood of virologic suppression and avoid drug resistance.

In my experience, the decision is difficult enough to make for a person living with HIV without using value-laden words like "exorbitantly expensive" and "highly toxic". In my opinion, the basic concepts that seem to form the core of the message of the Rath Foundation are potentially sound, but I would submit that they could be made without inflaming the debate. In the AIDS movement, it is important for all of us to pull in the same direction and put the person living with AIDS first, rather than arguing among ourselves.

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