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