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Former South African President Says Government Lost Years in AIDS Fight - 2004-10-04

South Africa's last white president says the country's new black rulers lost years in the fight against AIDS by rejecting an action plan by his administration.

F.W. de Klerk is quoted by the South African Press Association as telling a pharmaceutical conference in the coastal town of Kleinmond Monday the post-apartheid government shelved his action plan against AIDS simply because it was from the apartheid era. He said the new government was trying in his words "to reinvent the wheel."

Mr. de Klerk said the government's action was understandable, but said it cost years in the fight against AIDS.

He did not specify what his administration had planned to do to fight AIDS.

The United Nations estimates more than five million South Africans are infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.