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South African Activists Denounce Government's Decision to Withdraw Drug Recommendation

July 14, 2004

South African activists decried their government's decision against using single-dose nevirapine in pregnant HIV-positive women, which studies show cuts mother-to-child HIV transmission by 50 percent.

The government should not say "nevirapine is poison," and thus spread "confusion among poor people," Zachie Achmat, head of the South Africa-based Treatment Action Campaign (TAC), said at the 15th International AIDS Conference in Bangkok.

In 2002, a South African court ruled the government must give women access to nevirapine through the public health system. The government had argued it needed to ascertain whether the drug was dangerous before providing it.

"What do we do today when our governments continue to create confusion?" asked Sipho Mthati of TAC.

South Africa has the highest number of HIV-positive people worldwide, with an estimated 5.3 million people infected.

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Excerpted from:
Associated Press

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