This is an archive of the Treatment Action Campaign's public documents from December 1998 until October 2008. I created this website because the TAC's website appears unmaintained and people were concerned that it
was becoming increasingly hard to find important documents.

The menu items have been slightly edited and a new stylesheet applied to the site. But none of the documents have been edited, not even for minor errors. The text appears on this site as obtained from the Internet Archive.

The period covered by the archive encompassed the campaign for HIV medicines, the civil disobedience campaigns, the Competition Commission complaints, the 2008 xenophobic violence and the PMTCT, Khayelitsha health workers and Matthias Rath court cases.

DATE:   18 MAY 2005
debate between

(Transcript by Snellers with a few minor modifications for incorrectly identified words and speakers.)

TIM MODISE:  It is twenty-nine to 10, we are joined by Advocate Anthony Brink who joins us on the line from Cape Town.  Good morning to you, Mr Brink, you're well this morning?

ADV BRINK:  Very well, how are you Tim?

TIM MODISE:  I'm okay.  We also are joined by Nathan Geffen of the Treatment Action Campaign, he's also on the line from Cape Town.  Good morning to you, Nathan.

MR GEFFEN:  Good morning Tim, how are you doing?

TIM MODISE:  I'm okay.  I suppose both of you are in Cape Town because of this matter that's before the Courts now, is that correct?

ADV BRINK:  I've settled down here myself, Tim.

TIM MODISE:  Oh okay.  Advocate, the Treatment Action Campaign people are not happy with you and the Mattheus Rath Foundation.  Are they correct in their views, they've been very critical of you saying that you've been providing the public with very misleading information?

ADV BRINK:  Well indeed the TAC is unhappy with us because we've been exposing the central agenda of the TAC, it's very dangerous and unfortunate.  What we've been doing is pointing that the drug AZT, which is the (indistinct) biggest, original and biggest and best selling Aids drug, is profoundly toxic and we think people ought to know this and shouldn't be told that you can expect minor side effects like a normal drug.

TIM MODISE:  But tell us, you are specifically, on what issues would you say the Treatment Action Campaign's public statements are misleading to the public?

ADV BRINK:  The TAC's central agenda is to get Aids drugs to as many HIV positive people as possible, and we think it's a terrible mistake.

TIM MODISE:  And you have also suggested that the anti-retrovirals are poisonous and that people should rather use vitamins?

ADV BRINK:  There's no doubt about the fact that ARVs are poisonous, AZT and the many drugs like it.  AZT, when packaged for research use, by laboratory workers, comes with a skull and cross-bones on the bottle, a broad orange strip which is industry habit for deadly toxic chemical hazard, and toxic is six different languages and then on the side, toxic to inhalation, in contact with skin and if swallowed, target organs, blood, bone marrow.  In case of accidents or feel unwell, seek medical advice as per the label and wear suitable protective clothing.

TIM MODISE:  Tell me, Advocate Brink, why do you think that the Treatment Action Campaign would go on such campaigns?

ADV BRINK:  Because they are suckered, they have believed the bill of goods sold to them by the pharmaceutical industry, hook, line and sinker without any critical thought about this at all.

TIM MODISE:  Nathan?


TIM MODISE:  Yes, you heard what Advocate Brink says, right?

MR GEFFEN:  Tim, well, first of all, if the Treatment Action Campaign are suckers (indistinct) so are the South African Medical Association, the Southern African HIV Clinicians Society, the World Health Organisation, UNA, virtually every respectable medical institution in the world, because there's a large consensus across the world that anti-retrovirals are effective at treating HIV.  I want to make a few points about the TAC stance, Tim, if you don't mind.
        First of all nutrition is absolutely critical for managing HIV, and in fact there was a conference in Durban a few weeks ago, on 10 to 13 April, and there was a statement - that conference was organised by the World Health Organisation and the Department of Health.  It was attended by some of the best nutritionists and HIV clinicians in the world, and the statement that came out of that conference was absolutely clear, nutrition is very important, but it's not a substitute for anti-retrovirals treatment and in fact to optimise anti-retrovirals treatment you need good nutrition.  That has always been the stance of the Treatment Action Campaign, it's the reason why we talk about nutrition in our workshops and why we publish a nutrition fact sheets, which we distribute widely and listeners can contact the Treatment Action Campaign for a copy of that if they want.
        I also want to just give you a very important - there are lots of statistics and studies which have shown how effective anti-retroviral treatment is, I just want to give you one.  There was a study conducted in South Africa by Badri Becker and some of the top HIV clinicians in this country, and they found that when someone's CD4 count drops to below 200, and just to explain to listeners what that means is, basically when your CD4 count is below 200, for all intents and purpose you have Aids.  When you CD4 count drops below 200, there's a 35% chance that you will survive three years, without treatment.  If you go on to anti-retroviral treatment that chance of survival goes up to 80%, and I think that statistic, which is based on a large sample of people and has been confirmed in other studies and other anti-retroviral centres throughout the country and around the world, demonstrates unequivocally that anti-retroviral treatment is very important once people get Aids.

TIM MODISE:  Nathan, hold on a second there, why not open the lines, 4809567, 8830702.  Your views about this matter, we had Advocate Anthony Brink earlier on saying that the Treatment Action Campaign are suckers, they've just been sold a whole lot of goods that are not as effective as they claim, but of course Nathan Geffen has explained the efficacy of anti-retrovirals.  Ivan, you join us from Magaliessig, good morning.

CALLER: IVAN:  Hello Tim.  Well the Treatment Action Campaign may be suckers, but the Rath Foundation are liars.  The United Nations Health Organisation, it was reported in this weekend's newspapers, they threaten to sue Rath for misinterpreting and misusing its report and putting a false slant on its report.  The BBC phoned the Harvard professor who Rath quoted as supporting him in his study, supporting Rath's attitude, and this Harvard professor said also that Rath had totally misinterpreted the findings of his report and he rejected Rath's interpretation.  I would just like to put it to Rath that they are, therefore, branded by United Nations and the Harvard professor who they quote, as liars, and secondly, I would like to say to him, you know, he's like the guy, I mean the Treatment Action Campaign could turn around and say, if you take vitamin A in excess, it is poisonous, but I mean nobody, except an idiot, would say something like that.  Anything has its positives and its negatives ...

TIM MODISE:  Okay, well, Advocate Brink, how do you respond to Ivan?

ADV BRINK:  Well, we're here to talk about ARV but to the extent that we're talking about the Harvard study which the Dr Rath Health Foundation has relied on.  Professor Farthy(?) has not criticised Dr Rath's citation of the clinical finding, the disagreement between Farthy and the Dr Rath Health Foundation arises from the fact that Farthy believed that swallowing anti-retrovirals drugs like AZT is good for you and that's the only point of difference.  There is no question at all that Farthy criticises the way we have sighted his clinical finding.  If we (indistinct) the listed information, Farthy did an Aids study in Tanzania, he brought in more than 1 000 women and found that the administration of a simple multi-vitamin, Regimen(?), was remarkably successful in the clinical result that it produced in staving off the development of Aids (indistinct).

MR GEFFEN:  Can I respond to that, Tim, please?


MR GEFFEN:  Okay, first of all Mr Brink has misrepresented Mr Farthy, secondly, the Advertising Standards Authority examined the claims that Dr Rath made in his advertisements in South Africa about this study in Tanzania, and they found that they had misrepresented the study, they had exaggerated the results of the study.  The study did indeed show that a particular combination of vitamins, and I must tell you something that Dr Rath's vitamins, I have some of Dr Rath's vitamins in front of me here which he's illegally distributing in South Africa, Dr Rath's vitamins are certainly not the same vitamin that was used in the Tanzanian study.  The Advertising Standards Authority found that Dr Rath and Mr Brink could not provide a single, credible and independent verification of the claims they made on multi-vitamins.  Certainly multi-vitamins are useful, that's why the Public Heath sector distributes them to people with HIV for free, we support that, but Dr Rath distributes multi-vitamins in extremely high doses to people, he exaggerates their value, they do not reverse the course of Aids.  A particular combination of multi-vitamins slows down, there's evidence to show that it slows down the progression to Aids, but once you develop Aids, you need anti-retrovirals if you are going to have a good chance of living a long life.

ADV BRINK:  May I respond to him?


ADV BRINK:  They can never enquire into the merits of our response, we put up three leverarch files stuffed full of citations of medical literature, stuffed full of substantiation and they kicked the whole thing to touch on the basis that the submissions were not blessed by one, by a single credible expert, in other words hundreds of credible independent scientific experts didn't do the ASA1 and 1, and anybody who doubts this can have a look at the findings, the various days findings, they ...

TIM MODISE:  Alright, let's talk to Justice in Swanbi(?), good morning.

CALLER: JUSTICE:  Good morning to you, Tim, how are you?

TIM MODISE:  I'm alright, welcome.

CALLER: JUSTICE:  I'm a medical doctor, I have been treating patients for quite a long time, most of them have got HIV Aids.  I now want to put to the fore a few facts.  One fact is that this Dr Rath, I don't know, I mean he's a German doctor, I understand, but he's living in South Africa and conducting his researches and what, and he is not supposed to be in the country, I mean whatever he's doing is illegal.  I can tell you today that a multi-vitamin won't cure an Aids virus, HIV virus, so (indistinct).  And I wish to (indistinct), it seems like he has got his own agenda and I think that perhaps he is trying to promote this multi-vitamin, maybe he's (indistinct) multi-vitamins (indistinct), I don't know.  This man needs to be (indistinct) out of the country, he is not registered with the Medical Council, I don't know what he's doing in the country, and we are all ...

TIM MODISE:  Justice, just a moment, because Advocate Anthony Brink represents him here and I think he agrees with most of what he claims.  Why is that, Advocate Brink?

ADV BRINK:  I do what, Tim?

TIM MODISE:  I think you agree with the work done by the Dr Rath Foundation, why is that?  Why do you agree with it?

ADV BRINK:  I actually support the principle that people who are ill benefit from nutritional support and you are better eating good food and getting multi-nutrient therapy rather than swallowing synthetic toxic chemicals.  I want to answer one question there, one aspect, on his (indistinct) that ARVs kill the virus, well that isn't the case.  AZT, the anti-retrovirals AZT should be converted inside ourselves into a  metabolised form called AZT triatephosphate(?).  AZT triatephosphate is necessary for AZT, for the drug to have an anti-retroviral action.

CALLER: JUSTICE:  Can I say, can the advocate, because he's an advocate he's not a (indistinct) in the medical profession, tell everybody how does a multi-vitamin stop the virus from multiplying?  And I can tell you a lot of people who died, (indistinct) people who died from HIV Aids they were very well nourished ... (TALKING SIMULTANEOUSLY - INDISTINCT). I've got people who died (indistinct), and Dr Rath (indistinct) South Africa must know this, people who do things like Rath.  I don't (indistinct), really.

TIM MODISE:  Okay, Justice.  Obviously a very, very emotive issue this, we'll be taking calls from you ... 4809567, Numsa, unfortunately you have your radio set on.  I must quickly put Numsa on hold, should we go for a break?  Numsa will talk to you in a moment, and Nathan will have an opportunity to respond.   (PAUSE)  The network continues, we're talking calls from you, 8830702, 4809567, Advocate Anthony Brink who speaks on behalf of the DR Rath Foundation, Nathan Geffen of the Treatment Action Campaign Group debating the merits of the anti-retrovirals, following claims made by the Mattheus Rath Foundation that anti-retrovirals were poisonous.  Numsa of Roodepoort, good morning to you.

CALLER: NUMSA:  Good morning, Tim.  You know I am very, very sad and concerned by how these people treat this whole HIV Aids thing.  People are dying and this no joke, and the way we are going on, it's like everybody thinks they know everything and it's obvious for somebody else in the whole management of HIV Aids.  I strongly, strongly believe, Tim, that there is a place for nutrition including your multi-vitamins in the management of HIV Aids, there is also a place for anti-retroviral therapy in the management of HIV Aids and for the Treatment Action Campaign to be so loud about medicines are know and any other person who comes up with something, you want to shout them down because they want to talk and talk and talk about drugs, makes one suspicious of them, it makes us think that they are drug pushers as the are labelled to be, because they are very loud about drugs, and nobody is saying there is nothing, there are openings for drugs in HIV Aids management, but I would like hear them being very, very loud as well about ...

TIM MODISE:  Nathan is here to explain himself.  Nathan, how do you respond?

MR GEFFEN:  Well I don't know if Numsa heard the beginning of the interview, but I made it very clear that the Treatment Action Campaign know that nutrition is extremely important in the management of HIV, together with Soul City(?) I am aware that we're, as far as I am aware, we're the only two organisations that have actually widely distributed a scientifically accurate fact sheet on nutrition and HIV.  We cover nutrition in virtually all our workshops and yes, there might be a public perception that we emphasise anti-retroviral treatment and there are good reasons for this.  First of all anti-retrovirals are the only medicines, and it is the only heath intervention currently known to specifically treat HIV, there is no other medical intervention which is known to specifically do this.  While other interventions are important, anti-retroviral treatment is the only intervention that can really turn around this epidemic.  The other interventions are important, nutrition is critical, we need to implement it.  One other reason for the perception is that anti-retroviral treatment has been the one area in which certain people in Government have been quite obstinate in trying to stop anti-retroviral treatment from being made generally available, and as such we campaign very loudly for it to be made available.  So obviously a public perception is created that we are pushing anti-retroviral treatment and we are, we don't make any apology for it.

TIM MODISE:  Alright, Nathan.  Numsa, thank you very much.  Nokosi, Muizenberg, good morning to you.

CALLER: NOKOSI:  Good morning to you.

TIM MODISE:  Welcome.

CALLER: NOKOSI:  What I want to make clear here is the PAC is doing a good job in promoting the anti-retroviral treatment, because I, for one, myself, have relied on anti-retrovirals since 2002, and there was a time before I went onto anti-retrovirals my CD4 count was so low that it was really, I had (indistinct) of the 34 count, and since I started taking anti-retrovirals my life has improved, it has turned into a life.  I have been taking anti-retrovirals with good nutrition and there is (indistinct) my CD4 count has increased it has gone to about 200, and what I would like to know from the Dr Rath Foundation, is if they are saying that the TAC,  (indistinct) drug comes from a different company, why are there not any pharmaceutical treatment available at the (indistinct)?

TIM MODISE:  Okay.  Advocate, a very brief response from you, please.

ADV BRINK:  Well, the question is why they don't furnish (indistinct) for the Rath Foundation?   We're only talk about a ARV drug which true information, the Dr Rath Health Foundation is a non-profit organisation, it generates no revenue of any kind in this country and is not supported by a foreign, by grants from overseas, from all manner of drugs ...

TIM MODISE:  I read somewhere, Advocate Brink, that the Foundation was distributing its medicines or multi-vitamins in the Western Cape and some leaflets.  Nathan, what is the story about that?

MR GEFFEN:  Okay, well first of all Mr Brink is being disingenuous.  The Rath Foundation is a front that's been put up by Mattheus Rath for his commercial interest.  He sells vitamins on the Internet for $29.00 a month for his basic Regimen.  By the time you have bought everything that he wants you to buy, it's over $100.00 a month.  He makes an enormous amount of money, clearly, from his vitamin sales, and that's what he uses to fund the Foundation with, which is basically his marketing arm.  I must tell you that Dr Rath has warnings and rulings against him, and so many of them, I am going to just list a few of them. From our own Advertising Standards Authority, the British Advertising Standards Authority, the Food and Drug Administration in the United States, the South African Medical Association, the Southern African HIV Clinicians Society, UN Aids, the World Health Organisation, UNISEF.  I see Ben Tuark, an ANC MP has condemned him in this morning's Business Day, it's endless.

TIM MODISE:  Hold on.  Advocate?

ADV BRINK:  Yes Tim?

TIM MODISE:  You don't want to respond to what Nathan says?

ADV BRINK:  Yes, indeed, the Doctor has run headlong into, has run into opposition from all sorts of interest groups which promote and support the use of anti-retroviral drugs and other pharmaceutical drugs, because he's promoting a model of health care which has nothing to do with the merchandise sold by the pharmaceutical industry.  He suggests that health is best maintained and best recovered with nutritional support and multi-nutrient therapy.


ADV BRINK:  Can I just respond to that?  I must first of all tell you that the vitamins that (indistinct) operation, in this country there is nothing being sold and nothing will be sold, that is perfectly clear, so that is a false statement, it is a false characterisation of Dr Rath, his motivation and the nature of the Foundation here.  It is not a commercial operation.

TIM MODISE:  Alright, Nathan, we will give you an opportunity to respond in a moment.  William Tokai, we will be coming to you, Paul Boksburg, Frans Benoni, Miranda Roodepoort, Andrew Randburg, Rufus Plattekloof.  My guests Advocate Anthony Brink and Nathan Geffen of the Treatment Action Campaign Group, and Advocate Anthony Brink speaking on behalf of Mattheus Rath Foundation.  He also represents the Treatment Information Group.  We'll be taking calls in a moment.  (PAUSE)  The network continues.  Let's quickly talk to William from Tokai.  Good morning to you.

CALLER: WILLIAM:  Good morning, Tim and Mr Brink and everybody else and Nathan.  Very, very quickly I want to lend my support to Mr Brink and to Mr Rath, but we are up against a machine which is very, very much bigger than they are, they are not going to win this.  Secondly, very briefly, AZT was a drug produced in the '50s against cancer when it was popularly believed by the medical profession that cancer was a virus, a drug to get rid of the (indistinct).  Good luck, Mr Rath.

ADV BRINK:  Thank you for that, William.  Just for the listeners' information, the guy that invented AZT (indistinct), was (indistinct) AZT, your effort is (indistinct) one, I hope you succeed in persuading the Government not to make AZT available.

TIM MODISE:  But, Advocate Brink, you've got concerns about the Treatment Action Campaign Group, what are your concerns, very briefly?  Why are you so opposed to their work?

ADV BRINK:  Because they are promoting a deadly poison which is completely useless.  You know, we've done a lot of talking in this programme, but very little about AZT.  As early as 1991 (indistinct)  warned and biochemical and biophysical research communications that it's urgently necessary to develop a remedy substituting this toxic substance, AZT.  The (indistinct), said, no, no, it's fine, all drugs have side effects, however, they are prevalent (indistinct) a toxic side effects are particularly broad ranging in respect of (indistinct) toxicity, (indistinct) toxicity, (indistinct) toxicity, (indistinct).  No-one talks about these things ... (TALKING SIMULTANEOUSLY)

MR GEFFEN:  Can I respond to that?

TIM MODISE:  Ja, please respond.

ADV BRINK:  It's a lot worse now, I assure you.

TIM MODISE:  Okay, alright.

MR GEFFEN:  Can I respond to that, Tim?

TIM MODISE:  Very quickly, yes.

MR GEFFEN:  First of all we frequently talk about the side effects of anti-retrovirals, but the benefits far outweigh the risks, Tim, and if Mr Brink looks at our fact sheets of anti-retrovirals, he will see that we talk about the side effects quite openly, we've got nothing to hide.  Secondly, Mr Brink hasn't addressed any of my points around the statistics which have shown that anti-retrovirals, including AZT, has brought down the death rate due to Aids.  I'll give him another one, the MSS Clinic in Khayelitsha, they have just released a report in which they said that they have been treating over 2 000 adults and children with anti-retrovirals for three years.  Most of those people would be dead by now, but 80% of them are still alive.

TIM MODISE:  Alright, Advocate Brink, a quick one?

ADV BRINK:  I absolutely dispute that anybody needs to swallow a toxic, synthetic chemical to stay alive when their health is broken, and I absolutely dispute that HIV positive, without swallowing that chemical, leads to death, because that's the kind of myth that the Catholic Church was selling in (indistinct) in the Middle Ages.

TIM MODISE:  Alright, Advocate ...

MR GEFFEN:  Mr Brink, you can absolutely dispute as loudly as you like, but the realities of the statistics demonstrate you to be completely wrong.

TIM MODISE:  Nathan Geffen, thanks very much, Advocate Anthony Brink, thanks again for taking part in this debate this morning, it's exactly 10 o'clock, and time for Eye-Witness News.