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Debunking Delusions - New book by Nathan Geffen

10 March 2010

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Debunking Delusions coverAidsTruth contributor and a leader of the Treatment Action Campaign, Nathan Geffen, has published a new book documenting AIDS denialism and the related quackery in South Africa titled Debunking Delusions: The Inside Story of the Treatment Action Campaign. We will publish a full review soon. More information can be found at the book's website. Below is the publisher's summary of the book.


One of the great, iconic struggles for social justice in the 21st century has been the campaign of the TAC against state-supported Aids denialism in South Africa. This struggle between activists, scientists and health workers, on the one hand, and a strange alliance of dissidents, quacks and political leaders, on the other, is here recounted in absorbing and dramatic detail for the first time by an insider. In his book Nathan Geffen, one of the TAC leaders, describes how early on in its life the organisation discovered that the greatest obstacle to AIDS treatment was in fact the South African government’s denialism. Not only did this extend to a reluctance to provide antiretroviral treatment to AIDS patients but also to support of a host of quacks and denialists who operated freely in the country to sow suspicion and confusion about the efficacy of standard medical treatment of AIDS. The most notorious of these were the German vitamin seller, Dr Matthias Rath, who along the way sued The Guardian of London and lost his case, and the Dutch nurse Tine van der Maas. It was the TAC that, as a result of a court case it brought against Rath, managed to stop his operations in South Africa; and it was the TAC, once again through legal means, that put pressure on the South African government to roll out an antiretroviral programme throughout the country. Geffen describes not only the TAC’s response to the puzzling intransigence of government and the spellbinding nonsense of dissidents, but the thought, strategy and discussion that lay behind the organisation’s major decisions. The story of the TAC’s campaign is one of the great triumphs of citizen activism for social justice and human rights. 

About the Author

Nathan Geffen has been one of the leaders of TAC since 2000. His work has involved confronting the AIDS denialist policies of Thabo Mbeki and Manto Tshabalala-Msimang. He was also the editor of TAC’s magazine Equal Treatment. He has written extensively on AIDS and human rights. He previously co-authored two chapters in Edwin Cameron’s book Witness to Aids, winner of the Sunday Times Alan Paton Award. This is Geffen’s first full book.

“Between these covers you will find all the passion and intelligence Nathan Geffen devoted to the fight against quackery in South Africa. The Mbeki government’s march of folly is fully exposed here. One hopes that this book will serve, not only as a record, but as a lesson.” – Jonny Steinberg

 “An intellectually incisive, engagingly written history of a policy calamity – and the courageous activism it unleashed – that has important implications for our country's understanding of its past, as well as its future course.” – Edwin Cameron


House of Numbers

An AIDS denialist film "House of Numbers" is doing the rounds at film festivals and is being promoted to college campuses and similar venues. AT has published several items about the misinformation contained in the film. For comprehensive information on the lies and distortions in the film, visit Inside House of Numbers.


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