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.



United Nations and WC government release statements condemning misinformation on antiretrovirals

31 March 2005


United Nations condemns irresponsible attack on antiretroviral therapy

Western Cape government affirms success of antiretroviral treatment - condemns misinformation.

United Nations Condemns Irresponsible Attack on Antiretroviral Therapy

Geneva, 30 March 2005 -- A recent advertising campaign is touting the benefits of vitamin therapy above antiretroviral therapy and claiming that antiretroviral therapy is toxic. These advertisements are wrong and misleading, said the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) today.

WHO, UNICEF and UNAIDS have condemned the irresponsible linking of their names to claims that vitamins and nutrition therapy alone can prevent AIDS deaths.

A number of accounts published by Matthias Rath on his website and distributed as flyers and advertisements within South Africa state that a number of United Nations bodies including WHO, UNICEF and UNAIDS endorse his approach. The three UN organizations are extremely concerned about these misrepresentations and note that the Rath Foundation uses quotes and information from UN agencies out of context. Misrepresentation of this sort is both dangerous and unhelpful.

Over the last few years, several studies have been carried out to investigate the role of micronutrient supplements on the course of HIV/AIDS disease. The results of these studies have not been conclusive. WHO and UNAIDS recommendations for micronutrient supplementation are therefore similar for all people whether they are infected with HIV or not.

As in the population at large, a good diet that provides the full range of essential micronutrients is important to the health of people infected with HIV and can help bolster the immune system, boost energy levels and maintain body weight and well-being. Guidelines published jointly by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and WHO in 2003 offer simple dietary suggestions for people living with HIV and AIDS1.

Although they may help to meet increased nutritional requirements, nutritional supplements cannot replace eating a balanced and healthy diet. Whether a person is infected with HIV or not, WHO and UNAIDS recommend a good mixed diet, whenever possible, rather than dietary supplements. For people on antiretroviral therapy, good nutrition and clean water help treatment work more effectively.

Vitamins and nutritional supplements alone can not take the place of comprehensive treatment and care for people living with HIV/AIDS, including prophylaxis and treatment for opportunistic infections and antiretroviral therapy, where indicated, as well as a good, balanced diet. Antiretroviral therapy has been shown in numerous studies to reduce the replication of HIV in the body, reduce the incidence of opportunistic infections and AIDS-related illness and improve quality of life. In countries where it is widely available, antiretroviral therapy has turned AIDS from a ‘death sentence’ into a chronic but manageable disease. As with any other drugs, antiretroviral treatments do have side effects that have been documented in clinical trials.

The role of nutrition for people living with HIV/AIDS will be highlighted at an upcoming meeting being convened by WHO in collaboration with other UN agencies. The Consultation on Nutrition and HIV/AIDS in Africa will take place in Durban, South Africa from April 10 - 13, 2005. The goal of the consultation is to develop feasible, evidence-based strategies that will help improve the health status of HIV-infected people in southern and east African countries.

Editors note: A fact sheet entitled ‘AIDS treatment, nutrition and food supplements’ is available on the internet at


Misinformation about use of antiretroviral medication

Press release by Western Cape Minister of Health, Pierre Uys on 23 March 2005

It has come to the attention of the Western Cape Provincial Department of Health that misinformation is being spread in respect of the use of antiretroviral medication.

In order to reassure the public and to set the record straight on the benefits and risks of antiretroviral medicines, we would like to highlight the following points:

Antiretroviral treatment prolongs life, decreases illness and improves the quality of life of people with AIDS. This is well documented in numerous well-designed and scientifically sound studies conducted locally and abroad.

In countries where antiretrovirals are routinely prescribed when clinically indicated in patients infected with the disease, rates of hospitalisation and death in HIV infected people have dropped considerably and the productivity and quality of life of these patients have been improved dramatically. There are now more than 7000 patients on treatment in the Western Cape, and the majority of these patients are experiencing the same benefits.

All medicines including antiretrovirals are associated with adverse drug reactions. In rare situations these reactions can be serious and even life threatening. Such reactions can even occur with over-the-counter medicines. However, the benefits provided by the treatment need to have been shown to outweigh the risks before these medicines are licensed, prescribed and dispensed to patients. Internationally there is agreement that the benefits of antiretrovirals far outweigh any risks such treatments may pose.

In order to ensure that the medicines used in HIV and AIDS patients are as safe as possible, and that adverse reactions are kept to a minimum, health care providers in the Western Cape are trained in clinical and laboratory monitoring of patients on antiretrovirals, and the management of antiretroviral adverse effects should they occur. In addition, treatment guidelines, which outline the management of adverse reactions are widely distributed to all relevant health facilities and a 24-hour medicines information line for health staff has been set up for any queries or advice that health staff may require about their patients’ treatment.

We would like to reassure the general public that we will continue to provide antiretroviral therapy to HIV infected people wherever clinically indicated, as part of our efforts to provide the best possible health care for all in the Western Cape.

We would like to express our concern about the possibility that the programme is being undermined by the distribution of information, which creates any confusion about the benefits and risks associated with antiretroviral treatment.