South Africa AIDS Activists Demand Government Action Against Vitamin Guru
October 14, 2005
South African AIDS advocates and political representatives are urging their government to stop a vitamin guru from taking advantage of senior officials' reservations and ambivalence regarding the benefit of antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) for treating HIV/AIDS.
Last week, a woman who in June had publicly declared her health restored and her HIV symptoms reversed -- thanks to vitamins from the Matthias Rath Foundation -- died of an "undisclosed illness," according to Health-e News Service. In response, the main opposition Democratic Alliance and the HIV/AIDS advocacy group Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) called on President Thabo Mbeki and Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang to intervene to stop Rath.
Through paid advertisements in South African and international newspapers, Rath has conducted a campaign critical of ARVs, which he has repeatedly said are poisonous. The advertisements also accused ARV manufacturers of prolonging the epidemic for profit. Rath claims that tiny doses of natural nutrients -- like the vitamins he sells -- can cure everything from AIDS to heart disease.
Tshabalala-Msimang has expressed doubts about the safety of ARVs for treating HIV/AIDS, instead advocating a diet including garlic, olive oil, and lemon. Mbeki has been criticized for doing little to stop the epidemic, which kills more than 600 South Africans daily.
TAC leader Zachie Achmat demanded the president and health minister "stop playing games with our lives."
The World Health Organization, UNAIDS, and leading scientists and academics have condemned Rath and said ARVs relieve AIDS patients' suffering and extend their lives.
10.13.2005; Clare Nullis
This article was provided by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update. Visit the CDC's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.