Mbeki blamed for thousands of AIDS deaths

Nov. 8, 2008 at 2:49 PM

PRETORIA, South Africa, Nov. 8 (UPI) -- Former South African President Thabo Mbeki is responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths by blocking anti-AIDS drugs, an activist says.

South African AIDS activist Zackie Achmat of the Treatment Action Campaign told the BBC Saturday that Mbeki's decision after taking office in 1999 to ignore scientific evidence and declare the anti-AIDS drugs dangerous and toxic directly contributed to the deaths of victims of the disease.

A Harvard School of Public Health study published last month claimed 330,000 died as a result of Mbeki's policies, while nearly 35,000 babies were born HIV-positive between 2000 and 2005, the British broadcaster said.

Achmat contends Mbeki, who resigned in late September has "blood on his hands" and called for him to be brought before the courts or the country's Truth and Reconciliation Commission. An Mbeki spokesman referred the BBC to the government, but no spokesman was available to comment.

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