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2008: Matthias Rath

During the Mbeki era, and that of his Minister of Health Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, there were various controversial figures that the government was linked to concerning their understanding and approach to HIV and AIDS. One of these was Dr. Matthias Rath, a vitamin salesman who denounces antiretroviral medication as toxic and dangerous. In contrast, he offers his own vitamin formulations that he claims can reverse the course of AIDS.

Rath has come under severe criticism from AIDS activist groups, Medecines Sans Frontieres, and even South African law courts. He is accused of endangering the lives of thousands of South Africans by encouraging PLWA to refuse ART and instead follow treatment by “natural remedy.” It is not hard to see how Rath fitted in with the Mbeki government and its denialist approach to AIDS. The Minister of Health met with Rath in 2005 and after that his South African endeavors received a generous measure of protection from the government.

In June 2008 a court judgment found that the state had failed to enforce its own legislation to control medical trials without the approval of the Medical Controls Council. Despite this, Tshabalala-Msimang continued to support Rath and his work because they coincided with her adamant claims that a healthy diet was the best fight against AIDS.

Wits Journalism Anova Health

The project is jointly managed by the Anova Health Institute and the Journalism and Media Studies Programme at the University of the Witwatersrand. The project is funded by by the Health Communication Partnership based at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Centre for Communication Programmes and the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS relief through the United States Agency for International Development under terms of Award No. JH/HESA-02-05 and through the Anova Health Institute through PEPFAR via USAID under Award No. AID-674-A-12-00015.