South African Study Backs Drugs Over Food Against HIV
August 22, 2007
A report released Tuesday by South Africa's top scientific advisory panel finds that neither food nor food supplements are acceptable substitutes for drug therapy in people infected with HIV.
"The panel has concluded that no food, no component made from food, and no food supplement has been identified in any credible study as an effective alternative to appropriate medication," said Prof. Barry Mendelow, chairperson of the 15-member panel convened by the Academy of Science of South Africa.
Mendelow acknowledged that nutritional intervention is "a valuable supportive measure" but that this is not an alternative to antiretrovirals and TB drugs. "It's not a question of one or the other."
The report comes at a time when President Thabo Mbeki is facing harsh criticism for his support of Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, who backs nutritional approaches instead of drugs for AIDS treatment, while at the same time firing Deputy Health Minister Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge, who supports widespread distribution of AIDS drugs.
Advocates say senior government officials' conflicting messages are hurting the nation's fight against AIDS. In addition, South Africa's health care system is struggling with an exodus of health care personnel who have left for better paying jobs elsewhere.
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.