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International News

South Africa's Ruling Party Accuses Former US President Carter of Encouraging Africans to Take Untested AIDS Drugs

March 11, 2002

The ruling African National Congress accused former US President Jimmy Carter on Sunday of being arrogant and contemptuous for criticizing the South African government's AIDS policies, and it said he was trying to foist unsafe drugs on South African AIDS patients. Carter, who visited South Africa Friday before flying to Nigeria, urged the government to do more to fight AIDS and widen access to treatment. He also offered to help raise funds for anti-AIDS programs. The ANC said the safety of the AIDS drug nevirapine -- which Carter urged be made available at all public hospitals -- was still unproven.

"We do not understand why US citizens urge this drug upon us when the health authorities in their own country do not allow its use for mother-to-child [HIV] transmission," the party said in a statement. Nevirapine has been approved for use by the US Food and Drug Administration and the World Health Organization. Studies show it can reduce mother-to-child transmission of HIV by up to 50 percent. "We find it alarming that President Carter is willing to treat our people as guinea pigs, in the interest of the pharmaceutical companies, which he would not do in his own country," the statement added.

In Abuja, Nigeria, Carter attended a church service and praised that country's leaders for the work they have done to fight HIV, making a veiled reference to South Africa's Thabo Mbeki. "We came earlier this week from another country, which I won't name, where the president has avoided this responsibility completely and AIDS is rampant and growing everyday," Carter said Sunday. The ANC said South Africa could solve the problem on its own. "We do not need the interference and contemptuous attitude of President Carter or anybody else," it said. "We are not arrogant to presume that we know what the US should do to respond to its many domestic challenges. Nobody from elsewhere in the world should presume they have a superior right to tell us what to do with our own challenges."


Back to other CDC news for March 11, 2002

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Adapted from:
Associated Press
03.10.02; Mike Cohen


  
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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
 
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