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South Africa's ANC Criticizes US For Covering Up Concerns Over AIDS Drug

South Africa's ruling party has accused U.S. health officials of using Africans as "guinea pigs" and covering up possible adverse effects of a drug used by pregnant women infected with the AIDS virus.

The statement by the African National Congress comes after a string of reports that U.S.-funded trials in Uganda sparked safety concerns about the drug, Nevirapine.

South Africa currently dispenses Nevirapine for free in public hospitals. The drug is used to slash the mother-to-child transmission of HIV, the AIDS-causing virus.

This week, the Associated Press reported that in 2002, U.S. health authorities failed to inform the White House over concerns a single dose of Nevirapine might create resistance to future AIDS medication.

The Bush Administration has since promoted use of Nevirapine in Africa.

U.S. health officials said Friday that trials found only a small number of cases where adverse reactions might be attributed to Nevirapine.

Some information for this report provided by AFP and Reuters.