ACTIVISTS MAKE A NOISE ABOUT AIDS DRUG PRICES
SAPA 11 July 2000
A noisy group of about 70 AIDS activists on Tuesday demonstrated at the 13th International AIDS Conference being held in Durban against the expensive drug prices imposed by pharmaceutical companies.
The whistle and horn blowing protesters disrupted afternoon proceedings, which largely dealt with the availability and accessibility of drugs to developing nations.
The group chanted several slogans including "medication for every nation".
The outburst disrupted a press conference at which three AIDS dissidents, including a member of President Thabo Mbeki's AIDS Advisory Panel, hailed the South African leader a "hero" for his stance on questioning whether HIV causes AIDS.
Professor Charles Geshekter, on the panel, said the demonstration had upstaged the press conference, but that it was not because he had called the press.
"This (the protest) is very normal at these AIDS conferences. It is part of the show. It is business as usual."
Geshekter and two women activists spelled out the dangers of making AZT available publicly to treat HIV.
Earlier, a renowned scientist argued that the effectiveness of using of the anti-retroviral drug was overwhlemingly positive.