Matthias Rath promoted his nutritional supplements as reversing the course of Aids; promoting them in South Africa, where campaigns have been long and hard to get the Government to take treatment and prevention seriously in a country weher there are over 6 million infected with HIV.
The Guardian took the Dr Rath Foundation to task for denouncing conventional medicine, and being responsible for Aids deaths in its activities. Rath started a libel action against them but yesterday dropped the action and paid the newspapers costs.
Ben Goldacre, author of Bad Science wrote:
Rath is an example of the worst excesses of the alternative therapy industry but Rath transplanted these practises into the world of HIV/Aids, where evidence really matters.
Pseudoscience, quackery, an enemy of reason. He advocated his supplements instead of ARV drugs – which he describes as “not improving but rather worsening immune deficiencies and expanding the Aids epidemic” describing them as toxic. His defiance of the pharmaceutical companies has won plaudits, where the treatment of AIDS is seen as a conspiracy for capitalists to make money. However, with no medical evidence that his “alternative” actually works, and misleading promotions of his own supplements has led to misinformation on an issue that means life or death.
In some cases people took his supplements rather than taking ARV because they were given food and money to do so. Hopefully his reputation may be in shatters, but some people will want to believe his message even though there is nothing to support it but wishful thinking. As the leader in The Guardian today put it:
In the west, wacky claims often seem harmless enough. But the Rath case provides a terrible illustration of the potential consequences of treating the evidence with contempt.
Video link on Rath can be found here.