Durban, South Africa
Demonstrators booed South Africas health minister this week as the country held its first national conference on the AIDS crisis. Activists blamed Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang for refusing to provide public hospitals with anti-retroviral drugs. Tshabalala-Msimang says the drugs, the only medicines proven to be effective in treating AIDS, are dangerous and expensive. She said the public clamor for their introduction was the result of a foreign agenda set by drug companies. South Africa has 4.7 million people infected with HIV, nearly 11 percent of the population. Life expectancy there has dropped from 59.9 years in 1990 to a projected 45.2 in 2005. Activists say AIDS kills 600 South Africans a day.