Aids activist Professor Mark Wainberg dies

Johannesburg – Former president of the International AIDS Society Professor Mark Wainberg, a fierce critic of former president Thabo Mbeki's views on the pandemic, has died.

"It is with deep regret that we at the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) and SECTION27 have learned of the passing of Professor Mark Wainberg," the HIV/AIDS activist organisation said.

"As TAC we extend our deepest condolences to Professor Wainberg’s family, friends and colleagues – both in Canada and across the world."

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File picture: David Ritchie/ANA Pictures

The TAC said Wainberg played an important part in our struggle for HIV treatment in South Africa. He provided an affidavit in the landmark prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV case (also known as the TAC case).

In 2002 this case concluded with the Constitutional Court ordering government to make nevirapine available to pregnant women living with HIV in the public sector. In his affidavit Wainberg argued that the use of the antiretroviral medicine nevirapine should be encouraged and that the effectiveness of the medicine should take precedence over considerations of drug resistance.

The TAC said Wainberg, a former President of the International AIDS Society, was also an outspoken critic of former president Thabo Mbeki and Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang’s AIDS denialism.

"He also made a number of significant scientific contributions – amongst others contributing to the development of the antiretroviral medicine lamivudine – which is still widely used today for the treatment of HIV," said the TAC.

"Wainberg is part of a movement of scientists who during the peak of the AIDS crisis stepped out of their comfort zones as scientists to also become activists for evidence-based and human rights based health policy. For this we salute him."

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