Namhla Tshisela pics Munyadziwa Nemutudi
Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang was warmly welcomed yesterday when she signed up as a member of the National Association of People Living with HIV-Aids (Napwa) in Soweto.
Tshabalala-Msimang was well received by scores of members clapping hands and shouting "Forward with beetroot, olive oil and garlic". This happened at the organisation's third biannual national congress at the Diocesan Centre of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Southern Africa in Central Western Jabavu.
She said she had joined Napwa in support of the organisation's programme that works with parents of children infected by HIV.
"We welcome her . because she has done a lot to help those infected by HIV," said Napwa national director Nkululeko Nxesi.
He said that the organisation and Tshabalala-Msimang shared a "holistic and integrated approach" in the prevention and treatment of HIV.
Tshabalala-Msimang has received flak over her advocacy of beetroot, African potato and olive oil in the treatment of HIV-Aids, her policies on antiretroviral therapy roll-out and most recently, the suspension of Aids vaccine trials. She vowed to speak out against treatment options she believed would put patients at risk.
"I am a trained doctor and my responsibility is to speak the truth."
She said that though her responses to some of the issues surrounding HIV-Aids were unfavourable, they were governed by an understanding of circumstances in South Africa and the strength of scientific research conducted worldwide.
"As government we will continue to advocate for proper and healthy nutrition so as to promote healthy lifestyle and positive living among people living with HIV."