South African gov't proposes new anti-AIDS plan

The South African government proposed a five-year plan Wednesday to reduce the number of new HIV infections by 50 percent, saying it had failed to persuade young people to change their sexual habits. In a report, the government also said the country needed to better address the stigma associated with the disease, which discouraged many people from being tested, and vowed to expand its treatment and care program to cover 80 percent of people with AIDS. The report's frankness - and the warmth with which it was greeted by AIDS activists - marked a turnaround in government rhetoric on AIDS, after years of international condemnation for policies that many said went against medical advice and activists' efforts. The health minister in particular has been criticized for questioning antiretroviral treatments and promoting nutritional remedies, such as garlic and lemons, to fight the disease.