There's a doctor named Matthias Rath who for some years has been taking out big ads in the New York Times and the International Herald Tribune. Rath is a big proponent of megavitamin therapy for just about everything, and by some cosmic coincidence he also has a line of vitamins for sale. No doubt he has a web site and a half, but damned if I'll link to it.
His ads are thunderous, paranoid denunciations of the pharmaceutical industry, the likes of which I haven't seen since the Church of Scientology took off after Eli Lilly and Prozac in the early 1990s. If you want some Instant Rath, take those and add some Lyndon Larouche-level conspiracy theories (for a while there, Rath was all but blaming drug companies for 9/11), and mix well. Season to taste, but if you've really got a taste for this stuff stuff, there's no hope for you.
His latest manifestos have been targeted to South Africa, and they're just what that country doesn't need. Rath rants about antiretroviral drugs being sinister poisons, while apparently everyone could be cured of HIV if they'd just guzzle his multivitamins without pause. The South African activist groups demanding free retroviral drugs are, according to him, tools of the "international drug cartel" that exists in the fevered reaches of his head.
It's hard to know how to answer such otherworldly accusations. Try, for example, the idea of drug companies funding groups who are screaming for their patents to be abrogated and their profits confiscated. I'm having a hard time making the connection. All in all, I'd rather be stuck in an elevator for three days with a dozen Intelligent Design advocates than spend five minutes with Matthias Rath.
South Africa's attitudes and policies toward HIV are enough of a mess already, as those who remember former president Mbeki's handling of the epidemic know. According to an article in Nature Medicine, the South African Traditional Healer's Association has sided with Rath, and a recent press conference from health minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang featured one of her many endorsements of garlic, lemon peel, and beets instead of antiretrovirals. Meanwhile Rath is lobbying South Africa's parliament directly, amid accusations that he's planning to set up a factory to sell his own vitamin pills.
And meanwhile, at least 20% of South Africa's adult population is infected with HIV. What could be a great nation is threatened with an ugly slide back into the third world, while wastes of good carbon like Matthias Rath spend their time fighting the only known treatments. It makes you wish you could just avert your eyes.