South Africa's Health Minister Tells AIDS Conference to Focus on Other Diseases
June 8, 2005
Tuesday in Durban, South African Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang angered AIDS activists by telling national AIDS conference delegates they should focus on other diseases and by reiterating her view that drugs are not the only answer to fighting HIV. "Even though it is a conference on HIV and AIDS, you must not forget to talk about cancers, you must not forget to talk about diabetes, you must not forget to talk about other communicable diseases," the minister told some 4,000 scientists, medical professionals, AIDS activists, and social workers attending the four-day meeting.
Tshabalala-Msimang reasserted her opinion that nutrition -- including a lemon peel, garlic, beetroot, and olive oil regimen -- is a key component of treatment. "There is no single clear intervention that can solely solve the challenges of people living with HIV and AIDS," she said. "I know I get attacked if I say it's nutrition or micro-nutrients or antiretrovirals and people want me to say 'and, and, and'. I think we need to give South Africa options." The minister said South Africa is blazing a trail in research into traditional medicines, and the government will promote those once medical authorities have completed testing.
AIDS activists accused Tshabalala-Msimang of trying to undermine the conference. "From the beginning, she questioned why we should even have an AIDS conference," said Mark Haywood, spokesperson for the Treatment Action Campaign, South Africa's top AIDS lobby group. He added that "hard statistics emanating from her ministry" show AIDS is the biggest health crisis South Africa faces.
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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.