The HIV / AIDS activist and lobbying organisation, The Treatment Action Campaign (TAC), has won a victory against controversial HIV/AIDS denialist Matthias Rath. The Cape High Court has ordered that Rath, who sells vitamins, cease claiming or publishing statements that the TAC is a front for pharmaceutical companies.
In the judgement Judge Siraj Desai wrote that, “The limited restraint on free speech, resulting from the order I make, is not directed to stop the respondents from participating in a debate of immense public importance… The restraint is directed at the manner in which the respondents have chosen to participate in the debate and the methods they chose to employ.”
Rath’s controversial statements, some of which appear to be backed by the Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, include claiming that people living with AIDS can recover by simply taking vitamins – something that is rejected by mainstream medicine.
While the TAC welcomed the order, the organisation earlier expressed disappointment that it took the courts a full year to come to the judgment. The organisation is in an ongoing battle with Rath over his stance on the epidemic and says that he has conducting illegal clinical trial and distributing medicines in violation of the Medicines Act.