South African health activists step up criticism of government on AIDS

The Treatment Action Campaign said that South Africa faced "a crisis of infection, illness and death as 1,500 new HIV infections and 900 AIDS deaths occur on a daily basis."

South Africa has up to 6 million people infected with the AIDS virus, the highest anywhere in the world. More than 210,000 people are now receiving anti-AIDS treatment, but critics say this is a drop in the ocean and that the government is rolling out its treatment program too slowly because of lack of political commitment.

The president of the National Union of Mineworkers demanded the government provide more anti-retroviral medicines to miners, who caught the virus from unprotected casual sex, often during the long periods away from their families.

Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang frequently highlights the risks and side-effects of ARVs while praising the benefits of a diet strong in beetroot, garlic, olive oil and lemon.

The Treatment Action Campaign said that the daughter of a national politician, who gained prominence by publicly shunning ARVs in favor of natural remedies, had died, the AP reports.

Nozipho Bhengu, 32, had followed the garlic based diet prescribed by one of Tshabalala-Msimang's close advisers for nearly three years and once declared to journalists that she was scientific proof of the success of the diet.