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Last Updated: Tuesday, 15 August 2006, 09:15 GMT 10:15 UK
Fruit and drugs on SA HIV display
Exhibition stand
The government says it wants to highlight nutrition as well as drugs
Lemons and garlic are displayed next to condoms and anti-retroviral drugs on the South African stand at Toronto's international Aids conference.

Apples, nectarines and other tastier fruit were apparently included earlier, but were soon eaten, an official said.

South Africa's health minister has long promoted a diet including garlic and lemon as a way of treating Aids.

In 2004 the government began providing Aids drugs but activists still question its commitment to fighting HIV.

The exhibition represents "South Africa's response to Aids - the most comprehensive in the world," an official at the stand told the BBC's Lee Carter.

"The theme is talking about issues around nutrition, and also prophylaxis and treatment," he added.

But the approach attracted controversy, particularly since the bottles of anti-retroviral drugs were only added to the stand some time after the fruit and vegetables went on display.

'Despicable'

One doctor from the paediatric Aids unit at Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto challenged the organisers of the exhibit to provide scientific evidence that any of the foodstuffs on display were clinically effective.

"It's despicable that you bow to the minister's wishes and put the exhibit together in such a way," Dr Harry Moultrie said, quoted by Beeld newspaper.

At the same time, a Southern African Development Community (SADC) report says the main reason for the spread of HIV/Aids is people who have multiple sexual partners and are not consistently using condoms.

The study says casual sex and intercourse with sex workers are no longer the main causes of new HIV infections.

It says traditional high-risk groups, such as prostitutes, mineworkers and truck drivers, are, in fact, better protecting themselves against infection.




SEE ALSO
'Hopes high' for HIV conference
11 Aug 06 |  Health

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