TAC Electronic Newsletter


21 October 2005

Advertising Standards Authority dismisses complaint against TAC

TAC recognised as acceptable organisation to run an HIV/AIDS education campaign


The Advertising Standards Authority of South Africa (ASASA) has dismissed a complaint by an AIDS denialist against TAC for our widely distributed Talk About Nutrition and HIV  public information advertisement. ASASA ruled that our claims were verified. ASASA has also recognised TAC as an acceptable organisation to run "an educational or information campaign addressed to the lay public" on HIV/AIDS.

TAC thanks the following organisations for their assistance in managing this complaint: Southern African HIV Clinicians Society, South African Medical Association, UNAIDS, Soul City, Nutrition Information Centre University of Stellenbosh, AIDS Law Project, Department of Human Nutrition Nelson Mandela Medical School and the AIDS Law Project.

Here is the ruling:

(also available at http://www.asasa.org.za/ResultDetail.aspx?Ruling=2713)

TAC / Oliver Martins / 2439

 
Ruling of the : ASA Directorate
In the matter between:
Oliver Martins Complainant(s)/Appellant(s)
Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) Respondent

14 Oct 2005
Mr Martins lodged a complaint against a Treatment Action Campaign print advertisement
that appeared in the Cape Argus on 21 July 2005.

The advertisement states, inter alia, that:



“Antiretrovirals help most people who take them live much longer, healthier lives”;


“People with HIV often lose their appetites when they are sick. However, fighting HIV
increases the energy needs of our bodies”;


“HIV reduces absorption of food”;


“Large amounts of alcohol makes HIV worse”; and


“Smoking causes many illnesses, especially chest infections. People often smoke instead
of snacking. This is unhealthy if you have HIV”.

COMPLAINT
The complainant submitted, in essence, that all these claims are unsubstantiated and
therefore are misleading. The complainant took particular issue with general references
to HIV as opposed to AIDS.

RELEVANT CLAUSES OF THE CODE OF ADVERTISING PRACTICE
In light of the complaint the following clauses of the Code were considered relevant:

• Clause 4.2.1 of Section II - Misleading claims

• Clause 4.1 of Section II - Substantiation

• Appendix F - Reference to diseases in advertising: Recommendations

RESPONSE
The respondent addressed the merits of the matter and submitted documentation from the
Southern African HIV Clinicians Society (SAHCS) in support of the claims.

ASA DIRECTORATE RULING
The ASA Directorate considered the relevant documentation submitted by the respective
parties.

The respondent submitted statements from the Southern African HIV Clinicians Society
(SAHCS) in support of the claims.

Clause 4.1.1 of Section II states, inter alia, that before advertising is published,
advertisers shall hold in their possession documentary evidence as set out in Clause
4.1, to support all claims, whether direct or implied, that are capable of objective
substantiation.

The advertisement states, inter alia, the following:


“Antiretrovirals help most people who take them live much longer, healthier lives”;


“People with HIV often lose their appetites when they are sick. However, fighting HIV
increases the energy needs of our bodies”;


“HIV reduces absorption of food”;


“Large amounts of alcohol makes HIV worse”; and


“Smoking causes many illnesses, especially chest infections. People often smoke instead
snacking. This is unhealthy if you have HIV”.

The ASA carefully considered the objectives of SAHCS, its composition and the
relationship that exists between it and the respondent. SAHCS is ex facie an
independent, credible and expert medical body, and meets the criteria set out by Clause
4.1 of Section ll.

The documentary evidence submitted states that all the statements in relation to the
claims made are accurate and confirmed by research. Furthermore, SAHCS stated that
these views are shared by all reputable medical institutions. The substantiation
therefore specifically verifies the claims made in the advertisement.

Based on the above, the advertisement does not contravene Clause 4.1 of Section II of
the Code. As the claims are substantiated, they are not misleading and the
advertisement is not in breach of Clause 4.2.1 of Section ll.

Clause 2.2 of Appendix F states that, inter alia, advertisements should not make any
recommendations in relation to AIDS unless such advertising is an educational or
information campaign addressed to the lay public by Government Institutions or bodies
recognised by the ASA to run such campaigns.

The ASA asked the respondent to address it on why the ASA should recognise it as an
acceptable body in terms of Appendix F.

The respondent submitted documentation from The South African Medical Association
(SAMA) and Soul City Institute for Health and Development (Soul City) in support of its
work. Both organisations submitted that the respondent’s public information and
treatment literacy programme are accurate and based on the best available science. SAMA
and Soul City regard the respondent as a responsible and credible organisation
representing the best interests of the South African public with the necessary
expertise and as such request the ASA to recognise the respondent in terms of Appendix
F.

Both SAMA and Soul City are respected, independent institutions in their own right, and
the Directorate therefore takes cognisance of their opinions.

The Directorate therefore accepts that the TAC is an acceptable organisation as
envisaged by Clause 2.2 of Appendix F.

The advertisement is therefore an educational campaign addressed to the lay public by
an organisation recognised by the ASA to run such campaigns.

Based on the above, the advertisement does not contravene Appendix F of the Code.

The complaint is dismissed.

[END OF NEWSLETTER]