Jimmy Carter almost punched Mbeki - report

Johannesburg - Former US president Jimmy Carter has said he once almost punched former South African president Thabo Mbeki during a heated argument of the latter’s lack of an HIV/Aids treatment plan.

According to the Sunday Times, Carter, who attended a meeting of the Elders in South Africa last week, told the newspaper that it was the closest he had ever come to punching a head of state. He said the row was over Mbeki, and then minister of health Manto Tshabalala-Msimang’s refusal to let Aids be treated at the time.

Former president Thabo Mbeki famously denied the link between HIV and Aids. In 1999, Mbeki claimed that AZT - the most suitable ARV at the time - was toxic and refused to make treatment available despite offers of UN aid.

In 2000, Tshabalala-Msimang rejected the offer of free Nevirapine from its German manufacturer, despite the drug being cleared by the US's Food and Drug Administration and the WHO.

Recently, Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe said the country had made good progress in the fight against HIV/Aid.

"We are on the correct track; people living with HIV are living longer," he told a conference in the city.

South Africa's efforts to combat the pandemic were recognised globally.

"As a country, we have made significant inroads in our response and have begun to see the impact of our policies and strategies," he said.

A study by the SA Human Sciences Research Council (SAHRC) found that in 2012 two million people were receiving antiretroviral treatment.

According to the study, the prevalence rate increased from 10.6% in 2008 to 12.3% in 2012.

Motlanthe said that, hopefully, within the next decade the country would be able to achieve zero Aids-related deaths.

"Thirty years after the discovery of the HI virus, the world stands at a critical point where we seem tantalisingly close to declaring victory," he said.

 
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