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AIDS Protesters Occupy South African Government Offices  


At least 35 members of a prominent AIDS activist group in South Africa were arrested after occupying government offices and demonstrating in the street.

The Treatment Action Campaign staged the protests Friday in Cape Town against Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang. Activists demanded her resignation and arrest after the death of an HIV-positive prison inmate in the eastern city of Durban.

The deceased was one of 15 prisoners who recently won a court case ordering the government to provide anti-retroviral treatment. The government has appealed the case.

Meanwhile, at the International AIDS Conference in Toronto, a top United Nations envoy sharply criticized South Africa's AIDS policy. U.N. Special Envoy for AIDS in Africa Stephen Lewis said the country promotes "lunatic fringe" policies toward the pandemic.

South Africa's controversial health minister has repeatedly attracted criticism for her resistance to anti-retroviral treatments.

Earlier this week Treatment Action Campaign members at the Toronto conference stormed South Africa's stand, which had been promoting beets, lemon and garlic to combat HIV.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.