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Last Updated: Friday, 13 May, 2005, 12:47 GMT 13:47 UK
Angry exchanges at SA Aids case
Child at a TAC rally
The nutrition campaign could confuse those receiving ARVs
The start of a legal case between South African Aids campaigners and a group promoting vitamin supplements has been delayed due to noisy demonstrations.

Supporters of the rival groups made so much noise that recording equipment could not function properly.

The vocal Treatment Action Campaign is asking the courts to stop the Rath Foundation accusing it of being a front for pharmaceutical companies.

The Rath Foundation says its vitamin supplements can help stop Aids.

TAC has been at the forefront of pressure on the South African government to give anti-retroviral drugs to all those who need them.

South Africa has more than 5m people who are HIV positive - among the world's worst affected countries.

Toxic

Just before the court case began, hundreds of traditional healers wearing robes turned up to support the foundation headed by German-born Matthias Rath.

They carried posters reading "Viva doctor Rath" and "Media tell the full truth about ARVs".

TAC head Zackie Achmat (l) shouts at Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang (r)
Aids campaigners are also angry with Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang (r)
Dr Rath says that ARVs - generally seen as the most effective treatment for HIV/Aids - are toxic.

A TAC spokesperson accused Dr Rath of exploiting vulnerable people to promote his own multi-vitamin products.

It says it intends to bring a full-scale defamation action at a later date.

He took out full-page adverts in the International Herald Tribune and the New York Times this week, saying the drugs are a form of genocide.

He has placed similar adverts in South Africa, where the government has been accused of not doing enough to help those with HIV/Aids.

Unhelpful

Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang has also warned of the negative side-effects of the "cocktail therapies" and insisted on the importance of a good diet - including raw garlic, lemon, olive oil and beetroot - to fight HIV.

A joint statement from the World Health Organization, the UN children's fund Unicef and UNAids described Dr Rath's adverts as dangerous and unhelpful.

Some Aids workers in South Africa say that some people have stopped using ARVs following Dr Rath's public campaigns.

Dr Rath has long advocated the health benefits of vitamins, in conditions as diverse as cancer, heart failure and osteoporosis.

The profits from his vitamin marketing company go to support his health foundation.




SEE ALSO:
Aids 'genocide' advert condemned
11 May 05 |  Americas


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