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Mbeki comes under fire for defending his stance on Aids

The TAC's Mark Heywood says Thabo Mbeki's policies had a ‘tragic’ impact on South Africa.

Former South African President Thabo Mbeki. Picture: Facebook.

JOHANNESBURG - The Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) has slammed former president Thabo Mbeki's latest newsletter about Aids as "tragic, sad, flimsy and embarrassing".

Mbeki today published what he says is a brief commentary on the question of HIV/Aids in which he quotes one scientist saying aids is infectious because people have the wrong diet.

He also appears to claim there was a global industry that wanted to get people onto Anti-Retroviral (ARV) drugs so that they could profit.

In his commentary, the former president says it was important to ask in 2002 why HIV spread among heterosexual people in South Africa but not in the US.

He also says pharmaceutical companies had to whip South Africa into line so that it set an example by buying the drugs.

The TAC's Mark Heywood says Mbeki's policies had a tragic impact on South Africa.

"It actually, calculated, cost over 365,000 lives that could have been saved if we rolled out treatment at an earlier point."

Under Mbeki, life expectancy in South Africa was 51; after President Jacob Zuma's government introduced ARVs, it rose to 61.

To read Mbeki's latest newsletter click here.