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Last Updated: Monday, 11 April, 2005, 13:35 GMT 14:35 UK
Good diet 'crucial' in Aids fight
Ania Lichtarowicz
BBC News, Durban

Health Minister Manto Tshabvalala-Msimang
The health minister has been criticised for her approach to Aids
South Africa's health minister has called for good nutrition to become the frontline treatment for HIV saying it was vital for people living with Aids.

At the opening of a Durban conference, Dr Manto Tshabalala-Msimang highlighted the importance of better food becoming available to improve public health.

The minister has previously promoted garlic and beetroot as treatment for HIV and her comments have angered some.

She has been accused of not promoting the use of anti-retroviral drugs.

Comprehensive

"The world is coming round to something that we've known before and we've been talking about with South Africans - the importance of nutrition," she told the delegates.

Bongani and his grandmother
Anti-Aids drugs have become available to a few in South Africa

"Good nutrition is the start of good health. Because it is not just anti-retrovirals, it is not just the administration of anti-retrovirals, it is the comprehensiveness of the approach to our response to HIV and Aids."

The World Health Organization, the organisers of the conference on nutrition and HIV, are trying to get three million people in developing countries onto ARVs by the end of this year.

But without the support of governments, rolling out this treatment will be extremely difficult.

Although the health minister is promoting what she calls a "comprehensive" HIV strategy which includes prevention and drugs, her refusal to make ARVs a priority is seen by many people here as a failure to help those already infected.


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