April 9, 2009: This article details the activities of Matthias Rath, a proponent and rich salesman of vitamin treatments for cancer and AIDS. He allegedly is very influential with the South African government - which has proven to be very resistant to normal AIDS treatments, despite a very high HIV infection rate - and his organization also is going after volunteer NGOs dedicated to giving poor people these treatments.
Game and Story Use
- This article provides an excellent template for a Snake Oil Salesman villain who made it big - he is extremely rich, and has the support of an entire government. Defeating him can support an entire campaign arc, since he not only has to be stopped, but his ideas discredited.
- Noting, of course, that anyone going up against him is liable to be blackwashed as a "tool of Big Pharma" and/or a racist/colonialist/other wah (especially in the South African theatre).
- Also worth noting that, given a sincere belief in his position, he needn't necessarily be a cut and dried villain - merely a dangerous idiot.
- However, it should also be observed that there are a lot of places where the population's health outcomes really can be improved by remedying vitamin deficiencies (and hyponutrition generally) - including improvements in immune response, which can provide the sort of data people like Rath are prone to use to fog the debate.
- Rumor has it that the South African government are not so much resistant to the science of HIV as unwilling to "waste" money on people with an incurable condition, preferring to use placebos to keep them quiet whilst they die off. Of course, for this to work they would need to have the spread of the disease under control…