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South African
government reverses course on activist ban

South African
government reverses course on activist ban

The South African health ministry this week issued its list of groups invited to take part in the United Nations General Assembly Special Session on AIDS, which included the previously banned activist group Treatment Action Campaign. In a statement the ministry said invitees were chosen "with the aim of representing a broad spectrum of sectors involved in the response to HIV and AIDS."

Earlier this month the health ministry had announced that TAC, which was nominated for a Nobel Prize in 2004, would not be allowed to attend due to its position on HIV, prompting harsh criticism from activists. TAC has charged that the government's response to the country's epidemic and its rollout of antiretroviral medicines have been too slow, in part due to a lack of political will from health minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, who has questioned the efficacy of anti-HIV drugs while touting the benefits of nutrition and traditional medicines.

While declining immediate comment on the reversal, TAC spokesman Nathan Geffen said the group is "still trying to figure out what was going on." (Reuters)

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