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This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Foundation, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

Manto's Aids exhibit 'despicable'

14/08/2006 23:10  - (SA)

Antoinette Pienaar, Beeld

Toronto - A Gauteng paediatrician has caused an uproar at an international Aids conference in Canada by saying the inclusion of lemon, garlic and beetroot on the South African Aids exhibit is "despicable".

Dr Harry Moultrie of the paediatric Aids clinic at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto made his view known shortly after Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang said during the opening of the exhibit that South Africans should have the choice to use either traditional medicine or antiretroviral medicine against HIV/Aids.

Moultrie challenged the organisers of the exhibit to provide scientific evidence that any of the items, including African potatoes, were clinically effective.

No antiretroviral medicines in exhibit

"It's despicable that you (members of the Khomanani communications campaign) bow to the minister's wishes and put the exhibit together in such a way."

Shortly before that, journalists asked organisers why there were no antiretroviral medicines in the exhibit.

Shortly before the exhibit was opened, Khomanani employees fetched two bottles of antiretroviral medicine and a bottle of multivitamins and added them to the products on display.

Paddy Nhlapo of Khomanani said it was their plan to exhibit several antiretroviral products, but the case containing all these products went missing on the flight to Canada.

Moultrie was also incensed because the minister made her speech in front of the garlic display.

When one of the government officials hinted that Moultrie was not from South Africa, he said he lived in Johannesburg and was one of the managers of the health department's Aids programme, which was treating about 2 500 children with antiretrovirals at 12 clinics in Gauteng.

The minister boasted in her opening speech about the occurrence of HIV in South Africa being stabilised and said there were signs that the youth was heeding the government's message to abstain from sex and use condoms.

Mark Heywood of the Treatment Action Campaign said in reaction that the level of behavioural change by people was much lower than their Aids awareness.

He said it was untrue that the pandemic's stabilisation pointed to the government's successes.

'Dramatic increase in deaths'

"Statistics South Africa said 318 000 people died of various causes in South Africa in 1997. It increased to 567 000 by 2004.

"It's a dramatic and shocking increase in deaths. We're not in control of the South African Aids pandemic."

Several experts have said in recent years that deaths could contribute to statistics showing the occurrence of HIV was stabilising, because more people were dying than new people were being infected with Aids.

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