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Friday, January 06, 2006 

South African AIDS activists sue denialists

South Africa has been a hotbed of AIDS denial, ever since President Thabo Mbeki invited noted HIV denialist Peter Duesberg and other HIV-deniers to his country to discuss "alternative" theories of AIDS. Though scientists and others (including prior president Nelson Mandela) in the country repeatedly spoke out against these ideas, they've lingered. Now, AIDS activists are taking it to the courts. In the current issue of Nature Medicine, they have a brief news report discussing the lawsuit.
Doctors and AIDS activists in South Africa have filed a joint lawsuit against the country's health minister and controversial vitamin supplier Matthias Rath as concerns mount over the government's lack of leadership amidst the country's worsening AIDS crisis.

The South African Medical Association (SAMA) and the prominent activist group Treatment Action Campaign (TAC), which together filed the lawsuit, say they aim to end the climate of what the TAC calls "politically-supported denialism" afflicting the country's fight against AIDS.

A key element of the lawsuit is the allegation that in at least two townships, Rath is running illegal medical trials for his multivitamins, which he markets to AIDS sufferers as an alternative to 'poisonous' antiretroviral drugs.
The lawsuit claims 5 deaths already due to this action, with reports of up to 12--while 2 people still living were found to be taking anti-retroviral drugs.

The saddest quote of the article:
A spokesman for Rath declined to speak to Nature Medicine about the case, saying he is convinced the journal is "funded to the hilt with drug money."
Man, these conspiracy theories are getting tiresome, and so hard to keep track of. Is Nature Medicine in bed with the EAC as well?

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About me

  • I'm Tara C. Smith
  • From Iowa, United States
  • I'm a mom and a scientist, your basic stressed-out, wanna-have-it-all-and-do-it-all Gen Xer. Recently transplanted from Ohio to Iowa, I've spent most of my life in the midwest (with 4 years of college spent out east in "soda" territory). My main interest, and the subject of my research, is infectious disease: how does the microbe cause illness? What makes one strain nasty, and another "avirulent?" Are the latter really not causing any disease, or could some of those be possible for the development of chronic disease years down the road? Additionally, I've spent a lot of time discussing the value of teaching evolution, and educating others about "intelligent design" and other forms of creationism. My interest in history of science and medicine is also useful as a way to tie all of the above interests together. [Disclaimer: the views here are solely my own, and do not represent my employer, my spouse, that guy who's always sitting by the fountain when I come into work, or anyone else with whom I may be remotely affiliated.]
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