Nutrition not a substitute for ARVs - Zuma

By Time of article published May 25, 2005

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By Boyd Webb

Nutrition is not a substitute for appropriate HIV and Aids treatment, deputy president Jacob Zuma said in parliament on Wednesday.

"Let me emphasise that our position is that nutrition is not a substitute for appropriate treatment, but prolongs good health and serves as a solid foundation that determines the success of other medical interventions," he said in his address to the National Assembly during the President's budget vote.

He said this in stark contrast to health minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang who, while never completely ruling out antiretroviral drugs, strongly promoted the use of nutrition in the fight against the disease.

Earlier this month Tshabalala-Msimang said the country had been vindicated with its nutritional approach to combating the HIV and Aids pandemic.

She said people had ignored the importance of nutrition, and stated vehemently that she would continue to warn patients of the side-effects of antiretrovirals.

She said she had always felt it was her responsibility to inform Aids patients that they had three options - to improve nutrition, take micro nutrients or enrol in the ARV programme.

But she said she lacked information on how negative the side-effects of the ARVs were.

Zuma, however, said that South Africa's action plan did not rely on nutrition alone but that it was one of the pillars of the Comprehensive HIV and Aids Care, Management, and Treatment Plan.

He said the pillars of the plan included prevention and enhancing the treatment of opportunistic infections, and effective management of those HIV positive individuals who had developed Aids defining illnesses.

"That is why nutrition was included as an important element... of the Plan," he said. - Sapa

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